Srebrenica surivovrs hail Dutch court ruling

5th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Srebrenica massacre survivors hailed on Tuesday a Dutch court ruling that the Netherlands was responsible for the deaths of three Muslim victims, hoping it would facilitate another joint suit against The Hague.

"This ruling is a very good thing. It certainly paves the way that the Dutch state be also proclaimed responsible for what has happened in Srebrenica, for other victims also," Sabaheta Fejzic, of the Mothers of Srebrenica association, told AFP.

Lawyers of the Sarajevo-based association, gathering families of the 1995 massacre victims, filed a joint suit against the Dutch state before a tribunal in The Hague in 2007.

The suit was filed in the name of some 7,600 people, lawyer Semir Guzin told AFP adding he expected the hearings to start "in late 2011 or in early 2012 at the latest."

"They (the Netherlands) will not be able to avoid justice. Its wheels grind slowly," said Fejzic, whose teenage son and husband were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica.

She said "Serb soldiers grabbed my son from my arms in front of the Dutch soldiers' eyes, in front of the Dutch battalion base in Potocari" just outside the eastern Bosnian town.

The Dutch appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Netherlands were responsible for the deaths of the three men who were within the confines of the Dutch compound and were handed over to the Bosnian Serb troops by Dutch peacekeepers. It also ordered the state to pay compensation to the three victims' families.

The case was brought by the Dutch battalion's interpreter, Hasan Nuhanovic, and the family of the Dutchbat electrician, Rizo Mustafic, who was killed when he was handed over by the peacekeepers. Nuhanovic lost his father and brother when they were turned over to the Bosnian Serbs.

Guzin said the ruling in the Nuhanovic case was particularly helpful to Mothers of Srebrenica case. "It maybe paves the way for an out-of-court settlement," he said.

The Dutch government can still appeal the decision to the Dutch court of Cassation, the country's highest court.

Bosnian Serb forces brushed aside the lightly-armed Dutch in the UN-protected enclave where thousands of Muslims from surrounding villages had gathered for protection, before perpetrating the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

In the following days they executed around 8,000 Muslim men and boys. The events were termed genocide by two international courts.

© 2011 AFP

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