Netherlands court backs decision not to prosecute Dutchbat soldiers over Srebrenica deaths

04 May 2015 by Stephanie van den Berg, Belgrade (Serbia)

A district court in the Netherlands last week confirmed a 2013 decision by prosecutors not to charge former Dutchbat commander Thom Karremans and two subordinates for three deaths in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The victims were among the nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslims killed while under supposed protection by Dutch UN peacekeepers.

Dutchbat march on Veterans Day 2014 in The Hague (Photo: Flickr/faceme)
Image caption: 
Dutchbat march on Veterans Day 2014 in The Hague (Photo: Flickr/faceme)

The case hinged on the Blue Helmets’ responsibility for sending two men away from the base and, effectively, to their deaths at the hands of Bosnian Serb forces who overran the enclave that July.

In 2013, the Netherlands’ Supreme Court ruled that the state could be held liable for the deaths of these victims in a civil case seeking damages. However, prosecutors refused to charge individual Dutchbat officers in the criminal procedure that victims’ families tried to launch following the Supreme Court ruling. After much legal wrangling, last week’s ruling marks the final say in Dutch courts about criminal prosecution of Dutchbat soldiers over Srebrenica.

The judges explained that despite the findings of the Supreme Court in the civil procedure, individual criminal responsibility was a different matter, requiring a close look at what these specific officers at the base knew, or could have known, at crucial points.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
21 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Being the ICC's Chief Prosecutor is a delicate and politically sensitivejob.ForLuisMorenoOcampo it has been "the best job in the world." Fatou Bensouda will be taking over his office in June. She inhe

article
07 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

December 7, 2011 Ivory Coast is the latest playgroundoftheInternationalCriminal Court. This week the courtroom in The Hague became its theatre of justice. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo proudly p

article
07 December 2011 by Richard Walker

Four Congolese witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, find themselves caught in a legal wrangle, which could at once set a legal precedent and make them the last

article
07 December 2011 by Lindy Janssen

Brazil is booming. The economy is expanding and the country is getting ready to host the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. But the Latin American giant has not even begun dealing wi

article
07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.