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Hague court dismisses Srebrenica massacre claims against Netherlands

[JURIST] The District Court of the Hague on Wednesday dismissed claims alleging the Dutch government negligently failed to protect civilians during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive]. The relatives of several Bosnian Muslims killed at Srebrenica argued that the Netherlands [JURIST news archive] should be liable for the deaths because Dutch soldiers acting as UN peacekeepers had forced the victims out of a UN-designated "safe area" [resolution, PDF] and turned them over to Bosnian Serbs. The court ruled that the Dutch government was not responsible because the peacekeepers' actions were attributable only to the UN. A lawyer for the plaintiffs said they planned an appeal, although she did not expect it to succeed. A similar class action [JURIST report] remains pending before the court. Reuters has more. AFP has additional coverage. Radio Netherlands has local coverage.

The dismissed lawsuit, which the Hague district court began hearing in June [JURIST report], is the first civil case against the Dutch government arising from the Srebrenica massacre. In July, the court ruled that the UN was immune from liability [JURIST report]. An independent report [text] found that Dutch troops had mistakenly advised Bosnian Muslims to leave the enclave at Srebrenica, where an estimated 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed. Several of the 161 suspects indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] in connection with the massacre have evaded capture, including Ratko Mladic [ICTY case backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [ICTY case backgrounder; BBC profile] was arrested in Serbia in July but has refused to enter a plea [JURIST reports] before the tribunal.

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