Posted by Mariana on 18 Jan 2013 | Comments
The Dutch state is responsible for sending a Bosnian Muslim family to their deaths after they were expelled from a UN compound at Srebrenica in 1995, a relative told the Netherlands’ highest court on Friday.
Hasan Nuhanovic, who worked as an interpreter for Dutch UN peacekeeping forces in Bosnia at the time, told a Supreme Court hearing how he was ordered to tell his father, brother and mother to leave a UN base, sending them to certain death at the hands of Bosnian Serb forces.
“The Dutch… expelled my family and handed them to the Serbs, who killed them,” he told judges, who now have to deliberate whether the Netherlands can be held liable for the deaths of Nuhanovic’s father Ibro and his brother Muhamed as well as that of another worker on the base, Rizo Mustafic.
The three were among almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys slaughtered by troops commanded by Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, who brushed aside lightly-armed Dutch peacekeepers and overran the supposedly safe enclave in July 1995, during Bosnia’s brutal three-year civil war.
Friday’s hearing in The Hague is the culmination of a case spanning a decade, lodged in 2003 by Nuhanovic and Mustafic’s relatives who claim the three men could have been saved in what became Europe’s worst massacre since World War II.
A final Supreme Court judgement is expected in September at the earliest, spokeswoman Mireille Beentjes told AFP.
A Dutch appeal court in 2011 found the Dutch state responsible for the trio’s deaths, the first time it was held accountable for the Dutch UN battalion’s (Dutchbat) actions, opening the door for possible compensation.
The Dutch state said last year it would appeal the decision, stressing it believed the UN controlled Dutchbat soldiers in Bosnia.
Lawyer for the Dutch state Bert-Jan Houtzagers stressed on Friday: “It was a peacekeeping operation under command and control of the UN.”
“The behaviour of Dutchbat troops can exclusively be laid at the UN’s door.”
Mladic, dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia”, and former Bosnian Serb political chief Radovan Karadzic are currently facing charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.