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  • General view of Srebrenica

    General view of Srebrenica | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 July 2019

Around 8,000 Muslim men and boys were taken away and murdered in what was the worst mass slaughter on European soil since World War Two. It was recognized as a genocide by the International Court of Justice.

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled Friday that Dutch troops was liable for 10 percent of the deaths in 1995 of 350 Muslim males who were expelled from a U.N. base and killed by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica.

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“The government accepts the verdict of the Supreme Court,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement. “The state thereby accepts liability for the damages as determined by the Supreme Court.”

The court upheld a previous ruling against the Dutch state, yet reducing its liability from "30 percent" then to 10 without explaining how the proportions were calculated. 

A Dutch court originally held the state liable for compensation in 2014. In 2017 the appeals court upheld that decision before it was referred to the Supreme Court.

The lower court had said in 2017 that the Dutch actions meant the Muslims were "denied a 30 percent chance of avoiding abuse and execution", and thus the Dutch state was liable for 30 percent of damages owed to families.

The adjudication of 10% liability means the families of victims and survivors of the killings at Srebrenica are only likely to receive around a few thousand euros in compensation.

Kada Hotic, one of the Mothers of Srebrenica group of survivors present in court, said the amount of compensation was not the priority for the Mothers of Srebrenica. “We want justice,” she told Reuters, adding that the Dutch government was responsible for the start of the genocide in Srebrenica.

“No matter if it’s one percent, ten percent or 100 percent, they are responsible,” she said.

A lawyer for the victims said he would study the verdict to see if there are possibilities to fight the case further at the European Court of Human Rights.

While the supreme court upheld the partial liability of the state, it rejected a second charge - that the assistance given by Dutch forces in removing those gathered outside the base had been unlawful.

“Their accountability can never be erased. We won’t leave it here, we will go to the European court to see if we have the right to justice as Muslims,” said Munira Subasic, another plaintiff in the case.

During the Bosnian conflict in 1995, several hundred outgunned Dutch peacekeeping troops had been assigned to protect a U.N.-designated “safe area” where thousands of Muslims had sought refuge from Bosnian Serb forces - among them 350 men who made it into the Dutch base.

The Supreme Court found that the Dutch forces could have allowed those men to stay in the base and that, by handing them over, they had knowingly and unlawfully sent them to possible abuse or death at the hands of the Bosnian Serb troops.

“They took away the men’s chance to stay out of the hands of the Bosnian Serbs,” it said.

Srebrenica has cast a long shadow over The Netherlands, forcing a the government to resign in 2002 after a scathing report over the role of politicians in the failure of the peacekeepers.

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