Dutchbat commander may face trial

4th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Former Dutchbat commander Thom Karremans says he may face criminal charges as the result of a lawsuit brought by survivors and next of kin of victims of the Srebrenica massacre in which more than 8,000 men and boys were killed.

Mr Karremans made his comments in an interview with a current affairs programme. He was the officer who commanded the UN peacekeeping force Dutchbat which was responsible for protecting the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in the former Yugoslavia in 1995.

The Court of Appeal in The Hague ruled on 6 July that the Netherlands is liable for the deaths of three men killed in the massacre. The appeal was filed by former Dutchbat interpreter Hassan Nuhanovic and the next of kin of Dutchbat electrician Rizo Mustafic, who argued that these Muslim men should never have been ordered to leave the Dutchbat compound. They are now seeking to bring lawsuits against the then Dutchbat commanders.

In the interview, Mr Karremans says he understands he may have to appear before the military court in Arnhem. “In hindsight, they took the wrong decisions. ‘They’ being people who had the authority to take decisions on my behalf.”

“If it turns out that there was indeed that much time between the departure of the Mustafic family and of the last refugees, than I bow my head in shame. In that case, there would have been time and opportunity to take other measures. To save them."

According to the Court of Appeals, Dutchbat knew at the end of the afternoon on 13 July 1995 that these people would be facing a very serious risk of being killed if they left the compound. Mr Karremans said that the UN had already been alerted to the precarious situation in Srebrenica one month before the Bosnian-Serb forces seized the enclave, but failed to act.

He also reacted to a recent remark by then Dutch army commander general Hans Couzy, who said he would never have sent Karremans to Srebrenica had he known that Karremans was involved in marital problems.

”One does not make that kind of remark, let alone as a former army commander. I feel it’s kicking someone when they are already down, a stab in the back, and it would be to Couzy’s credit if he were to offer his apologies."

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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