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Netherlands to appeal state liability for deaths of 3 Bosniaks at Srebrenica

The Netherlands plans to appeal a judgment finding its government liable for the death of three Bosnian Muslims (Bosiniaks) during the Srebrenica massacre [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive] and forcing it to compensate the men's families. The Hague Appeals Court [official website, in Dutch] last year ruled [judgment, in Dutch] that the Netherlands is liable [JURIST report] for the deaths of three Bosiniaks who took refuge in a UN-designated "safe area" controlled by the Dutch battalion (Dutchbat), during the invasion of Srebrenica by Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder, PDF; JURIST news archive]. Dutchbat allegedly forced the refugees to leave the compound after which they were killed during the massacre. The court held that Dutchbat knew that men were being beaten and killed by the invading army and thus should reasonably have known that by forcing the men out of the compound it was putting them in grave danger. A spokesman for the government of the Netherlands said that they believed the area was effectively under UN control [AFP report] at the time of the incident.

Relatives of the victims filed the complaint [JURIST report] with the Dutch prosecutor's office in July 2010 alleging that three Dutch soldiers, operating as UN peacekeepers, were complicit in the commission of war crimes and genocide during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The complaint argued that the soldiers knew the victims would be killed if they were handed over to Serbian troops. Relatives of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre had previously sought justice for the actions of Dutch peacekeeping forces, which they say led to the massacre. In March, The Hague Appeals Court upheld [JURIST report] the UN's immunity from prosecution by rejecting claims [JURIST report] brought by relatives of victims of the massacre. The relatives, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, alleged that the Netherlands should be liable for the deaths because Dutch soldiers operating under the UN flag negligently failed to protect civilians by forcing the victims out of "safe area" and turning them over to Bosnian Serbs. Ratko Mladic was arrested [JURIST report] in May and is currently on trial in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] for charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. He was thrown out of his latest court appearance [JURIST report] earlier this week for causing a disruption and refusing to issue a plea.

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