World Bulletin/News Desk
The Dutch state is responsible for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslim men ordered to leave a U.N. compound in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the Dutch Supreme Court said on Friday, in a ruling that may impact future peacekeeping missions.
Hasan Nuhanovic, who worked as a U.N. translator during the Balkan wars, filed the case against the Dutch state more than a decade ago, seeking justice for the murders of his mother, father and brother.
The case is the first time Dutch have formally been held accountable for the failings of soldiers in a foreign peacekeeping mission and could pave the way for a flood of compensation claims.
Dutch troops were in charge of a U.N. "safe area" when Bosnian Serb forces overran it in 1995 and killed 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the Srebrenica genocide, Europe's worst massacre since World War Two.
Dutch forces would not allow Nuhanovic relatives to stay on the base because only he was employed by the United Nations. The court ruled on the deaths of his younger brother, father and another man. His mother's case was dropped.
The failed operation was a painful episode in Dutch international affairs and led to the resignation of Labour Prime Minister Wim Kok's government in 2002.
Dozens of Dutch peacekeepers in a mission known as Dutchbat, and operating under a U.N. flag, were outgunned and outmaneuvered by the Bosnian-Serb troops.
The Dutch soldiers, many of whom feared for their own lives, helped the attacking Bosnian-Serb troops as they separated Muslim men from women. The men and boys were then bussed to execution sites.
"Dutchbat decided not to evacuate them along with the battalion and instead sent them away from the compound," a summary of the supreme court ruling said.
"Outside the compound they were murdered by the Bosnian-Serb army or related paramilitary groups."
Nuhanovic welcomed the Supreme Court's decision as he stood in the court in The Hague, where survivors of the massacre hugged and wept.
"In the future, countries might act differently in peacekeeping missions and I hope the lives of other people in the future will be saved because this mistake was admitted," Nuhanovic said.
The Supreme Court upheld an appeals court ruling from 2011, which ordered that the relatives of the victims be compensated but did not state the amount.
The verdict, which is final, could make other states reluctant to participate in foreign military operations if their troops can be held responsible when things go wrong.
"The Supreme Court has held that public international law allows conduct to be attributed not only to the United Nations, which was in charge of the peace mission, but also to the state because the latter had effective control over the disputed conduct of Dutchbat," it said.
Liesbeth Zegveld, the Dutch lawyer who represented the victims, told reporters the decision had important implications.
"The most important conclusion is that a U.N. flag doesn't give you immunity as a state or as an individual soldier," she said.
The authorities of Central Asian Tajikistan say nearly 1,000 citizens have abandoned their homeland to join the ISIL fighter group.
Karim Wade, who was convicted by local court in 2013 for amassing illicit fortune, has been released from prison and flown to Qatar
Britain’s top official in the European Commission, Jonathon Hill, announced his resignation on Saturday in a sign of how the UK’s role within the EU institutions is dimininishing after the vote to leave.
Russian leader, counterpart witness inking of over 30 deals, sign statement vowing to enhance global strategic stability
1.5 million people have signed a petition calling for UK to hold 2nd EU referendum
The chain reaction from the UK vote to leave the EU has begun already with far-right parties calling for their own countries to leave the EU
Just one day after Mahmoud Abbas accused rabbi's of calling on the Israeli government to poison Palestinian water, he has retracted the charge saying it was "baseless" lie
Uzbekistan is the proud home to a spellbinding arsenal of architecture and ancient with magnificent cities boasting a beautiful mosaic of ancient history and a modern outlook
For Muslims, East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque represents world’s third holiest site
Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steimeier has said that it was important to heed the expectation from people and that the EU must not fall into a depression
The Mexican government will cut spending this year by a further $1.7 billion in support of its deficit-reduction targets
The UK has had its credit rating outlook downgraded to "negative" by the ratings agency Moody's after UK voted to leave the EU.
A car bomb exploded on Friday night evening in front of the visitors’ entrance at Benghazi’s Jalaa Hospital killing four people.
A wildfire has burnt more than 30,000 hectares that has prompted a state of emergency
Gudni Johannesson looks set to win Iceland's presidential election.