Court confirms Netherlands partially responsible for 300 Srebrenica deaths

The ruling relates to 300 of the 8,000 people who were massacred by Bosnian Serb troops at Srebrenica in 1995

Court confirms Netherlands partially responsible for 300 Srebrenica deaths

File photo: People pray at a funeral for 136 newly-identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre 20 years after it occurred, 13-Jul-2015. Image: Depo Photos/ABACA/PA Images

An appeals court in the Netherlands has confirmed that the country bears partial liability for the deaths of 300 people who were massacred by Bosnian Serb troops at Srebrenica in 1995.

The Muslim men were expelled from a Dutch UN base after the surrounding area was overrun by the Bosnian Serb troops.

Today’s ruling at the Hague Appeals Court upholds a 2014 decision finding that Dutch peace-keeping troops should have known that the men would be murdered after they were forced to leave.

Srebrenica massacre

Approximately 8,000 people were massacred by troops under the command of former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic at Srebrenica in July 1995.

The massacre remains the worst mass killing on European soil since the Second World War.

Srebrenica was a UN declared safe zone and many of the victims had fled to the area before discovering that Dutch troops defending the zone were only lightly armed and outnumbered.

Today’s ruling relates only to the 300 people who gained entry to the nearby Dutch base after discovering the troops at the safe zone were unable to defend them.

Reading the ruling today, Judge Gepke Dulek-Schermers said the Dutch soldiers at the base “knew or should have known” that the men were in “real danger of being subjected to torture or execution.”

However the court found that the Netherlands is only liable for 30% of the damages – as it decided there was a 70% chance the victims would have been dragged from the base, had the Dutch troops resisted.

The court rejected an appeal from relatives of the other victims – who had argued that the Netherlands should be held responsible for the protection of thousands more people who had gathered outside the base.

The families of the 300 victims will now enter negotiations with the Dutch state to determine the level of compensation owed – with the potential for a separate courts procedure should no settlement be reached.

Ratko Mladic is currently on trial for genocide with a verdict expected in November.