Three Dutch peacekeepers may face genocide charges in relation to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Relatives of two men killed by Serbian forces at Srebrenica today filed a complaint with the Dutch prosecutor’s office charging three Dutchbat commanders with complicity in genocide, war crimes and murder.
Commander Thomas Karremans, Deputy Commander Rob Franken and personnel officer Berend Oosterveen, were in charge of the Dutch peacekeeping battalion in the United Nations protected area of Srebrenica during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. Up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed during a five day period after the UN peacekeepers handed them over to forces led by Serbian general Ratko Mladic.
Today’s complaint says the commanders knew that the deportation of Rizo Mustafic and Muhamed Nuhanovic from the base would ultimately lead to their death at the hand of the Serbian soldiers. Therefore, the complaint reads, “these actions can be qualified as genocide and/or war crimes, and/or murder.”
The Dutch prosecutor general will now review the complaint and decide whether or not to pursue an investigation into the charges.
The remains of the father and brother of Hassan Nuhanovic were found in mass graves in 2007 and 2010. The body of Rizo Mustafic has never been recovered. Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld argues that Franken and Karremans knew what was going to happen to the men when they were sent from the compound. She told Radio Netherlands Worldwide:
"There can be little doubt about it. At the time, they expressed their fear for the fate of the men on several occasions. These Dutch soldiers feared a mass execution."
It is now up to the Public Prosecutors in Arnhem to decide whether the three Dutchbat officers will stand trial. Ms Zegveld believes there is a good chance that the case will go to court:
"I expect that given the evidence available, the Public Prosecutions Service will see sufficient grounds to prosecute."
If the Public Prosecutor decides to go to court, it will be up to the judges to decide whether the three are guilty as charged. In that case, the maximum sentence they face is life imprisonment.
Listen to an interview with Liesbeth Zegveld, lawyer for the plaintiffs: