From beyond the graves in the chilling cemetery at Srebrenica, three Bosnian Muslims have won justice. The relatives of the victims claimed their murders were due to Dutch troops handing them over to Bosnian Serb forces.
Judges in an appeals court in the Netherlands have ruled that the Dutch state was responsible and ordered the government to pay compensation to their relatives. One of the relatives, Damir Mustafic, explained how he felt after the court’s decision.
“I am really glad we finally won the case and it feels good. It feels very good. I didn’t expect it,” he said.
The lightly-armed Dutch were in charge of the United Nations-protected ‘safe area’ when Bosnian Serb soldiers attacked. More than 8,000 Bosnia Muslim men and boys lost their lives. The government in the Netherlands fell in 2002 after an official report was critical of Dutch actions.
One survivor, Sabaheta Fejzic, whose son was taken and never seen again, added her voice to the criticism.
“The worst of all is that after everything was over the Dutch UN soldiers committed the worst crime, the crime of keeping silent,” she told reporters outside the court.
Tuesday’s ruling could open the way for further compensation claims from other victims who claim they should have been protected. The Dutch government will study the decision before deciding whether to appeal.