Dutch state ruled liable for 'Srebrenica'

5th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The court in The Hague has ruled that the state of the Netherlands is responsible for the deaths of three Muslim men in Srebrenica in 1995. The government was ordered to pay damages to the next of kin, who had brought the case.

Hasan Nuhanovic, an interpreter for the Dutch battalion of UN peacekeepers Dutchbat charged with protecting the Muslim enclave Srebrenica in Bosnia, and the next of kin of Rizo Mustafic a Dutchbat electrician, filed a lawsuit against the Dutch state because Dutchbat handed over their relatives to the Bosnian Serbs. Under the command of then general Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb forces eventually killed 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

The two men had sought refuge at the Dutchbat headquarters. Mustafic was forced to leave and seperated from his wife just outside the compound fence and taken away, never to be heard of again. Nuhanovic was allowed to stay, but his relatives were forced to leave. The remains of his father and brother were recovered in 2007 and 2010.

The court ruled that Dutchbat, which abandoned the enclave in the face of a superior Bosnian-Serb force, should have foreseen that Mladic’s soldiers would kill the men. The court said that Dutchbat had witnessed the abuse and execution of Muslim men at the hands of Bosnian Serb forces. The three were the last of a group of 5,000 men who had sought refuge in the Dutch compound.

Liesbeth Zegveld, the lawyer of Hasan Nuhanovic, has been bringing cases against the Dutch state for the past decade. In order to help victims of war crimes such as the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, Zegveld has founded the Nuhanovic Foundation which offers legal expertise and advice to victims’ lawyers. The case of Hasan Nuhanovic is typical of the kind of procedures that the foundation plans to support.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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