Srebrenica survivors sue government

4th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

4 June 2007, THE HAGUE (AP) - Lawyers for thousands of survivors of Europe's worst massacre since World War II were filing suit Monday against the United Nations and the Dutch government for their failure to protect civilians in the Srebrenica safe haven when Bosnian Serb forces overran it in 1995 and slaughtered some 8,000 men.

4 June 2007

THE HAGUE (AP) - Lawyers for thousands of survivors of Europe's worst massacre since World War II were filing suit Monday against the United Nations and the Dutch government for their failure to protect civilians in the Srebrenica safe haven when Bosnian Serb forces overran it in 1995 and slaughtered some 8,000 men.

"In the last three years a strong case has been built against the Dutch state and the U.N., who will be held jointly responsible for the fall of the enclave and the genocide that took place there as a result," Dutch law firm Van Diepen Van der Kroef said in a statement. "The procedure must lead to a result whereby the relatives who survived this drama can finally get recognition and a sense of satisfaction."

The lawyers did not give more details of the suit.

About 200 survivors, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, were travelling from Bosnia to accompany lawyers as they delivered a civil summons to the Dutch government in the early afternoon, the law firm said. Dutch authorities are expected to pass on details to the U.N.

During the 1992-95 Bosnian war, the United Nations declared Srebrenica - which had been besieged by Serb forces - a U.N.-protected safe area for civilians.

But around 450 soldiers on peacekeeping duty in Srebrenica stood by helplessly and even assisted in separating women from the men when Bosnian Serb forces stormed the region in July 1995. The men were taken away in buses by the Serb forces and murdered, their bodies ploughed into mass graves.

An independent study later cleared the Dutch troops of most blame, noting they were outnumbered, lightly armed and under instructions to fire only in self-defence.

However, the 2002 report assigned partial blame to the Dutch government for setting the troops up to fail, prompting the Cabinet of Prime Minister Wim Kok to resign. The study also found that a French U.N. general inexplicably failed to send air support when it was requested, as had been agreed in advance.

The Dutch government gives around EUR 14.9 million in aid to Bosnia annually, of which a third is reserved to projects related to rebuilding Srebrenica.

Bosnian Serb military leader Gen. Ratko Mladic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic have both been indicted for genocide in the Srebrenica massacre but remain on the run.

The legal move against the U.N. and the Netherlands came on the day Zdravko Tolimir, a senior Mladic aide during the slaughter in Srebrenica, was to appear before judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal for the first time since he was arrested last week.

Tolimir was charged in 2005 by the U.N. tribunal with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, murder, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation, as well as murder in connection with the Srebrenica massacre.

[Copyright AP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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