The European Court of Human Rights has rejected claims by the families of three victims of the Srebrenica massacre against Dutch officers, endorsing a ruling by prosecutors in the Netherlands that rejected filing criminal charges over the officers’ complicity in the deaths.
Relatives of Rizo Mustafic, Muhamed Nuhanovic and his father Ibro Nuhanovic said on Thursday that the top European court had rejected their appeal against the earlier ruling, saying the incident in 1995 was sufficiently investigated.
The families had sued the officers, who served as UN peacekeepers at the time, accusing them of effectively turning the victims over to Bosnian Serb forces, knowing they would likely be killed.
The three Bosnian Muslims were among 8,000 men and boys who were killed by Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladic in July 1995 during a raid on a UN enclave in Srebrenica. The killing has been described as Europe's worst massacre since World War II.
Relatives of the three Bosnians said the Dutch troops should have protected the Muslims after they escaped the Dutch compound, saying the victims or other family members had worked for the Dutch peacekeepers.
However, the European court said an initial request for prosecution in the Netherlands “was given proper consideration.”
Relatives of the dead won an earlier civil case in 2013, when the Dutch Supreme Court made the government liable for the three deaths. The government then offered an official apology and compensation.
However, the Bosnians sought criminal charges against the commander of the Dutch battalion of peacekeepers, Thom Karremans, and two other officers.
“All legal remedies are exhausted ... my intention 15 years ago was criminal charges,” Hasan Nuhanovic, whose father and brother were killed, said, adding that the EU court ruling proved that “it was easier to turn this into a civil case against the state, rather than a criminal case against individuals.”