Relatives of victims condemn Srebrenica ruling

Bosnian Serb forces massacred Muslim men in Srebrenica

Bosnian Serb forces massacred Muslim men in Srebrenica

The Dutch Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Netherlands had "very limited liability" for the deaths of 350 men and boys during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

If Dutch forces had given the men the chance to stay in their compound, there was just a 10% chance they would not have fallen into the hands of the Serbs, and so the Dutch state should be liable for only that proportion of the damages suffered by the bereaved, the court ruled.

The Dutch Supreme Court agreed that "the state did act wrongfully in relation to the evacuation of the 5,000 refugees" in the compound, including 350 Muslim men the Bosnian Serbs were unaware of.

"They took away the men's chance to stay out of the hands of the Bosnian Serbs", it said.

"I think the final judgement is a bit disappointing, especially when you see the court ruling of 30% and now it's downgraded to 10%", said Remko de Bruijne, a former Dutch blue helmet who served at Srebrenica.

Thijs Bouwknegt, of the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide told Al Jazeera that what happened in Srebrenica has been a subject of a huge debate in the Netherlands since 1995.

The ruling was the latest in a long-running legal battle by a group of relatives known as The Mothers of Srebrenica to hold the Dutch government liable for the deaths of their family members.

In total some 8,000 men and boys were killed in the Srebrenica massacre and some 6,000 surviving relatives have been involved in suing the Dutch state following the death of their menfolk.

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"They are responsible and they will always have a stain", Munira Subasic, one of the relatives who brought the case, said angrily of the Dutch.

A Dutch court originally held the state liable for compensation in 2014.

Photos of victims in front of the court earlier this year.

The country's government has stated that they accept the new verdict and the 10% damage liability. While the United Nations safe zone was heavily shelled by Bosnian Serbs demanding that the Bosnian Muslims hand themselves over, the Dutch peacekeeping troops were denied air support.

In January, the Supreme Court's Advocate General issued a non-binding advisory opinion calling the 2017 judgment "irrational" and saying it "cannot be upheld".

The case revolves around the role played by the outnumbered and outgunned Dutch U.N. peacekeepers stationed in the Srebrenica enclave in eastern Bosnia as Mladic's Bosnian Serb forces overran the area.

The Srebrenica massacre was the worst mass killing for over 50 years.

The ruling upheld a decision made in 2017 at The Hague, but reduced the Dutch government's liability from 30% to 10%. It stressed, however, that "it is good to bear in mind that those to blame for the Srebrenica genocide are the Bosnian Serb forces". The bodies were plowed into hastily dug mass graves, which were later bulldozed and scattered among other burial sites in an attempt to hide evidence of the massacre.

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