Dutchbat faces its responsibilities

11 July 2005 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

On 13 July 1995, Rizo Mustafic, an electrician working at the UN compound in Potocari, near Srebrenica, was expelled from the camp by a Dutch officer. Not long after, he was killed. Today, members of his family, together with a former UN interpreter at the military base, Hasan Nuhanovic, are making a legal bid before a Dutch national court in The Hague to claim damages. Aware of the political and financial consequences such a precedent could have for the Dutch state, the court has examined witness testimony carefully. One 10 July, the plaintiffs announced their decision to go to trial.

As a UN employee, interpreter Hasan Nuhanovic had been authorised to remain in the secure enclosure of the battalion of Dutch soldiers in the UN intervention force, known as the "Dutchbat". His father was also allowed to stay, as a negotiator for the Muslim community. But since his wife and younger son were told to leave on the Serb buses taking refugees out of the compound, Hasan's father opted to accompany them. All three were later killed by the Serbs. Today, Hasan Nuhanovic and Mustafic's relatives are claiming damages from the Dutch government (see IJT-15) for failing to protect Muslim refugees sheltering at the UN base in 1995, during the fall of the Srebrenica enclave.

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