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Dutch court rules Netherlands partially responsible for deaths of 300 Muslim men during Bosnian War

[JURIST] The Hague Appeals Court [official website, in Dutch] on Tuesday upheld [judgment, in Dutch] a lower court's decision that Dutch peacekeepers were 30 percent responsible for the deaths of 300 Muslim males who were turned away from a Dutch UN base in 1995 when the area surrounding the base was overrun with Bosnian Serb troops. In the ruling, Presiding Judge Gepke Dulek-Schermers said dutch soldiers "knew or should have known that the men were not only being screened ... but were in real danger of being subjected to torture or execution." The court found the Netherlands only 30 percent liable because it was estimated that there was a 70 percent chance the men would have been killed regardless of the actions of the Dutch soldiers. The court also rejected an appeal that accused the Netherlands of being responsible for thousands of other Muslims who had gathered outside the base. The total amount of damages will be determined in a later ruling. The Dutch defense ministry is reviewing the ruling. A spokesman for the ministry denied any responsibility.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [JURIST backgrounder] and the Balkan States continue to prosecute those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. In December six former officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina were indicted [JURIST report] by the Special Department for War Crimes [official website]. In October a Croatian prosecutor charged eight ex-Yugoslav military officers [JURIST report], including commander Borislav Djukic, with war crimes perpetrated during the Croatian War of Independence. In July Brazilian authorities arrested a man charged with committing war crimes in 1992 [JURIST report] against the civilian population of former Yugoslavia. The search for wanted criminal Nikola Ceranic began in late June after Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities forwarded an extradition request to the Brazilian Justice Ministry and Supreme Court.

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