DID YOU KNOW?  -- Three years before the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, Serbs torched Bosniak villages and killed at least 3,166 Bosniaks around Srebrenica. In 1993, the UN described the besieged situation in Srebrenica as a "slow-motion process of genocide." In July 1995, Serbs forcibly expelled 25,000 Bosniaks, brutally raped many women and girls, and systematically killed 8,000+ men and boys (DNA confirmed).

17 June, 2008


A Dutch court has begun hearing a civil action brought against the Netherlands by relatives of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia. Meanwhile, at a vigil outside the Dutch court, Srebrenica genocide survivors and victims' relatives held up a long banner inscribed with the names of at least 8,106 victims - many of them defenceless children and elderly...

PHOTO: Hasan Nuhanovic, Srebrenica genocide survivor.

By Foo Yun Chee / REUTERS
(Republished for fair use only, as defined by the Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107)

A survivor of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre who says Dutch U.N. troops guarding the Bosnian town allowed Bosnian Serb forces to murder his family told a Dutch court on Monday he wanted justice for his loss.

Hasan Nuhanovic and the family of another Srebrenica victim are suing the Dutch state for negligence over its troops' role in the 1992-95 Bosnian war. The court will hear a separate civil suit on Wednesday filed by about 6,000 relatives of Srebrenica massacre victims against the Dutch state and the United Nations.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) men and boys were killed at Srebrenica, a U.N. safe haven guarded by a Dutch army unit serving as part of a United Nations force, after Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic overran it on July 11, 1995.

Nuhanovic, a U.N. interpreter who launched his case in 2002, says his father, mother and younger brother were killed after they were expelled from the town's Dutch military base. He says he was allowed to stay because he had a U.N. identity card.

"If I had not done this, I would not be able to go on with my life. I am seeking justice," Nuhanovic told Reuters ahead of the court hearing in The Hague.

Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, representing Nuhanovic and the family of Rizo Mustafic, an electrician in the U.N. force 's Dutch battalion who also died in the massacre, told judges the Dutch state had been grossly negligent and violated human rights through the actions of its soldiers in Srebrenica.

"One life could have been saved, my dad," Mustafic's daughter, Alma, told the court. "He was entitled to Dutch protection, this was confirmed to us, but he was not given it. He fell into Serbian hands, since then we have not heard anything about him."

At a vigil outside the court earlier on Monday, about 50 relatives and Srebrenica survivors held up a long banner inscribed with the names of the 8,106 victims.

Government lawyers said Mustafic was not evacuated because he was a temporary worker and not a U.N. employee.

"The acts of the Dutch battalion are attributable to the U.N. and not to the Dutch state," the lawyers told the court. "The Dutch state made available soldiers for the peacekeeping mission, to keep apart fighting parties. The fact they didn't succeed does not mean they are liable for the atrocities."

The Netherlands has said its troops were abandoned by the U.N., which gave them no air support. The families' lawyers have said public documents show a network of Dutch military officials within the U.N. blocked air support because they feared their soldiers could be hit by "friendly fire".

Judges said they would issue their ruling on September 10.

Munira Subasic, head of an association of mothers bereaved by the massacre, and who will be a witness for the suit to be heard on Wednesday, said she hoped for justice for Nuhanovic "and all others who experienced genocide under the protection of the U.N. and before the eyes of the whole world".

The Dutch government led by Wim Kok resigned in 2002 after a report on the massacre blamed politicians for sending the Dutch U.N. troops on an impossible mission. Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Mladic, both indicated for genocide over Srebrenica, are still at large.