Dutch UN commanders not liable for Srebrenica: court
THE HAGUE - Agence France-Presse
Dutch UN peacekeepers sit on top of an APC while Muslim refugees from Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, gather in the village of Potocari, some 5 kms north of Srebrenica. AP PhotoA Dutch appeals court ruled April 29 that three former UN commanders will not be prosecuted for the deaths of three Muslim men who were murdered after leaving a UN compound in Srebrenica in 1995.
Relatives of the three victims took UN Dutch Battalion commanders to court five years ago, saying the three were expelled into the hands of Bosnian Serb forces during the darkest episode of the country's 1991-95 civil war.
Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and buried in mass graves in mid-July 1995 at Srebrenica by Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic in the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.
Prosecutors in 2013 said they would not charge Dutchbat commander Tom Karremans, his deputy Rob Franken and personnel officer Berend Oosterveen for the three deaths, but the victims' families appealed.
"The court's military chamber dismisses the appeal," the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court said in a statement.
The complaint was made by relatives of Muhamed Nuhanovic, his father Ibro, and Rizo Mustafic.
Nuhanovic, then 27, was employed as a translator for the Dutch UN contingent and Mustafic as an electrician.
The victims sought safety with Dutch troops, but the plaintiffs say they were forced to flee into the hands of the Bosnian Serb army commanded by general Mladic -- himself now on trial for genocide and war crimes before the Hague-based Yugoslavia war crimes court.
In Muhamed Nuhanovic's case, the court said Dutch commanders were not obliged to have known that "there was a strong chance that he would be murdered" if he had left the compound.
Muhamed's father Ibro was told he could stay in the compound but decided to leave with his wife and son.
"It was a brave decision and therefore deserves respect... but it was his own decision and the accused can therefore not be held responsible," the court said.
Mustafic should have been able to stay in the UN compound, but was erroneously told he had to leave.
"There is no question of malicious intent. It was a stupid mistake which means at most a manslaughter prosecution," said the court, adding that the charge would have expired because of a statute of limitations.
The Dutch government last year said it would pay the families 20,000 euros each in compensation, after a ruling that the State was indeed liable for the deaths.