Dutch state to fight Srebrenica case in Supreme Court

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The Dutch state is to appeal at the country's supreme court after it was held responsible for the deaths of three Muslim men in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, state officials said Tuesday.

"We are going to the supreme court against the ruling" by a lower court, defence ministry spokesman Klaas Meijer told AFP.

A Dutch appeals court last year found the Dutch state responsible for the deaths of the three men in the massacre in July 1995, where Bosnian Serb troops commanded by Ratko Mladic murdered almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys, opening the door for possible compensation claims.

The worst atrocity committed on European soil since World War II happened at the enclave in eastern Bosnia, then under the protection of lightly-armed Dutch UN peacekeepers who were brushed aside.

The appeal court's July 2011 ruling marks the first time the Dutch state was held responsible for the actions of its UN peacekeeping battalion which was charged with protecting thousands of Muslims from a Bosnian Serb offensive.

The case was brought by the Dutch battalion's (Dutchbat) interpreter, Hasan Nuhanovic, who lost his father and brother, and by the family of the Dutchbat electrician, Rizo Mustafic, all of whom were killed when they were handed over by the peacekeepers.

"It was the UN that had effective control over the 'Dutchbat' forces, not the Dutch state," Meijer told AFP, adding it would "soon" file its application before the Supreme Court.

Bosnian Serb army chief Mladic and the former political leader, Radovan Karadzic, are on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Dutch Supreme Court in April ruled against plans by a group representing victims' families to claim compensation from the UN.

The Hague-based court turned down a final attempt by the Mothers of Srebrenica, a group claiming to represent thousands of family members of those murdered during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, to sue the global body.

© 2012 AFP

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