September 20, 2017 / 3:30 PM / a year ago

Dutch government seeks to overturn court ruling on Srebrenica

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The Dutch government has asked the country’s supreme court to overturn a ruling that the Netherlands was partly responsible for the death of 300 Muslim men killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacres.

The victims were killed after being turned away from a Dutch-run United Nations base where thousands had sought refuge from attacking Bosnian Serb forces at the tail-end of the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Dutch peacekeepers, out-manned and out-gunned by the Bosnian Serbs, did little more than look on as the men were separated from women and deported to killing sites.

Up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in total were killed at Srebrenica in the first genocide in Europe since World War Two.

“We do not share the judge’s opinion that Dutch U.N. peacemakers acted unlawfully and we do not understand how the court reached that verdict,” Klaas Meijer, Defence Ministry spokesman, told Reuters on Wednesday.

He was referring to an appeals court verdict in June confirming a 2014 ruling that said the Dutch peacekeepers should have known that the Muslim men would be murdered if they were forced to leave the U.N. base.

The supreme court can only overturn an appeal ruling if it finds that the lower court erred in law or procedure.

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has been convicted of genocide and sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.

His chief military commander, General Ratko Mladic, is currently on trial at the U.N. Yugoslav tribunal in The Hague. A verdict in his case is expected in November.

Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Gareth Jones

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