Dutchbat commander flees the Netherlands
2 April 2004
AMSTERDAM — The commander of the Dutchbat UN battalion which surrendered to Serb forces in 1995 at Srebrenica, where 7,000 Muslim men and boys were executed, has fled the Netherlands because he feels threatened.
Colonel Thom Karremans has fled to Spain, claiming on the IKON television Factor on Friday that he has been verbally threatened on several occasions, news agency ANP reported.
While walking in Amsterdam recently, the Dutch military officer overheard someone say: “They should hang that guy”. Several similar experiences prompted his decision to emigrate south. “I have fled my own nation and that causes a lot of pain,” Karremans said.
During the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Karremans was the commandant of Dutchbat III, the Dutch United Nations peacekeeping force entrusted with the protection of the Muslim enclave at Srebrenica in Bosnia in 1995.
But the vastly outnumbered and lightly-armed troops, who were deprived of UN air support, surrendered to Bosnian-Serbian forces led by General Ratko Mladic in July of that year.
The invading troops killed more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in mass executions. It was Europe’s worst case of genocide since World War II.
The Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) later published a highly damming report blaming Dutch ministers, military commanders and the UN for the massacre. The report’s findings led to the resignation of the Dutch Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Wim Kok in April 2002.
Meanwhile, the Mothers of Srebrenica pressure group submitted at the end of last year a EUR 875 million compensation claim against the UN and the Dutch government.
Lawyers said the complaint against the UN had been lodged with US courts, while the compliant against the Dutch government had been submitted to the Dutch judicial system. They are demanding USD 1 billion (EUR 875 million) in compensation.
One of the lawyers representing the Srebrenica survivors, US international rights professor Francis Boyle, previously tried in vain in the Yugoslavia War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague to have Karremans held accountable for the massacre.
Two of the men most wanted by UN tribunal in The Hague, Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander, Ratko Mladic, are accused of responsibility for the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. Both men remain at large.
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is on trial in The Hague, faces charges relating to atrocities carried out in Kosovo in 1999, to crimes against humanity committed in Croatia between 1991 and 1992 and to alleged genocide in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news