September 6, 2013.
One of the victims and her lawyer embrace as they react to the ruling of
the Supreme Court that the Netherlands is responsible
for the deaths of three Muslim men after the fall of
the Srebrenica enclave in 1995.
(Nicolas Delaunay, AFP)
The Hague - The Dutch state is liable for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslims who were expelled from a UN compound at Srebrenica in 1995, the supreme court ruled on Friday.
"The [appeals] court decision is upheld," Judge Floris Bakels said as relatives of the victims broke down in tears and hugged each other and their lawyers.
The final ruling in the long-running case means that former UN interpreter Hasan Nuhanovic, whose father, mother and brother were killed by Bosnian Serb forces after Dutch peacekeepers expelled them from the UN base, can seek compensation from the Dutch state.
The ruling also applies to relatives of another worker on the base, electrician Rizo Mustafic, who was also killed after being sent to certain death at the hands of Bosnian Serb forces.
Nuhanovic's mother, Nasiha, was killed although her death was not part of the current case, in which the Dutch state argued that the peacekeeping troops were under UN responsibility.
But, said Judge Bakels, clearing the Dutch state of responsibility would mean that "justice would have almost no way to judge armed interventions."
"That would be unacceptable," he said.
The three men at the centre of the case were among almost 8 000 Muslim men and boys slaughtered by troops commanded by Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, who brushed aside lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers and overran the supposedly safe enclave in July 1995, during Bosnia's brutal three-year civil war.
Friday's hearing was the culmination of a case spanning a decade, lodged in 2003 by Nuhanovic and Mustafic's relatives, who claim the three men - who all worked on the Dutch battalion (Dutchbat) base - could have been saved in what became Europe's worst massacre since World War II.
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*****Comment: The truth cannot be suppressed. Ever.
The Mothers of Srebrenica are to be applauded for their determination to bring the truth to light.