BFF-36 Dutch top court urged to drop Srebrenica ruling

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NETHERLANDS-BOSNIA-WARCRIMES-SREBRENICA

Dutch top court urged to drop Srebrenica ruling

THE HAGUE, Feb 1, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – The Dutch attorney general on Friday
urged the country’s top court to dismiss a ruling blaming the Netherlands for
the deaths of hundreds of Muslim men in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

The failure of lightly armed Dutch UN troops to protect the safe haven from
Bosnian Serb forces under General Ratko Mladic from Europe’s worst atrocity
since World War II remains a scar on the conscience of the Netherlands.

A lower court ruled in 2014 that the Dutch state was liable for the deaths
of some 350 Muslim men who were ordered to leave a base run by Dutch blue
helmets in July 1995, one of the darkest periods in Bosnia’s bloody civil
war.

But in the latest twist in an ongoing saga, Dutch Attorney-General Paul
Vlas said on Friday that the previous court ruling “cannot be maintained.”

“The Dutch troops were operating in a war situation and had to make a
decision under supreme pressure and the threat of armed conflict,” Vlas said.

“It would only have been different if (they troops) knew or should have
known that the men were facing death with certainty. This was not the case,”
he added.

In the Dutch legal system the attorney general’s advice is non-binding but
usually adhered to by the Supreme Court.

Victims’ relatives dragged the Dutch state to court saying that the troops
— even though under a UN flag — should have protected all the men.

The relatives, represented by the Mothers of Srebrenica victims’
organisation, sued for compensation.

Years of ongoing litigation followed in the case, seen as a source of
national shame for the Netherlands and a major failure on the part of the
United Nations.

In 2017 a Dutch appeals court upheld the 2014 decision — which was then
referred to the Dutch Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s final verdict is set for April 19.

In all, almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed at Srebrenica.

Both Mladic, dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia”, and Bosnian Serb wartime
political leader Radovan Karadzic have been convicted for genocide for their
roles in the Srebrenica massacre.

Both convictions are currently under appeal.

BSS/AFP/RY/1841 hrs