Monday 18 November 2019

Former Dutch army chief in court as Srebrenica mothers call for prosecution

A former Dutch army chief appears in court in Arnhem on Thursday as relatives of 8,000 men and boys massacred in Srebrenica attempt to force a criminal case against him.

Thom Karremans was in charge of the Dutch forces at the time the Muslim enclave was overrun by Bosnian Serbs. He and two other senior military officials should be tried for war crimes and genocide, according to the families’ lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld.

Last year, the public prosecution department said Karremans ‘was not criminally involved in the crimes committed by the Bosnia Serb army’ and would not face prosecution because he did not know the men would be killed.

There are several ongoing legal cases involving the Dutch army’s role in Srebrenica. The Dutch state said in October it is to appeal against a court ruling which found the Netherlands is responsible for the removal of 300 Muslim men from the Dutch army compound.

‘The mass murder in Srebrenica is a terrible tragedy and Bosnian Serb troops, and they alone, are responsible for it,’ the defence ministry said in a statement outlining its decision to appeal.

The relatives, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, lost earlier appeals to the Dutch supreme court and the European court of justice. Both said the Dutch soldiers had immunity because they were under the command of the UN.

The women decided to continue their campaign for justice after the Dutch supreme court said last September that the Dutch state is responsible for the deaths of three Muslim men. They were forced out of the army compound and later killed.

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