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PRESIDENT OF BOSNIA BLASTS UNITED NATIONS AND WARNS THAT 200,000 DIED IN BOSNIAN GENOCIDE

September 29, 2008 2 comments

On September 23, 2008 Haris Silajdzic reminded U.N. that during 1990s 200,000 people died in the Bosnian Genocide (see photos)

PHOTO: Haris Silajdzic, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, addresses the general debate of the sixty-third session of the General Assembly in New York, September 23rd 2008.

Quick Points: In a vehement denunciation of widespread genocide denial, the President of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dr Haris Silajdzic, warned the United Nations to be more pro-active in preventing genocides and correcting past mistakes. Dr Silajdzic, who disagrees with RDC figures which account for 100,000 dead in Bosnia, warned the UN that according to the International Red Cross Committee data “200,000 people were killed during the Bosnian war, 12,000 of them children, while 50,000 women were raped, with 2.2 million people forced to leave their homes.” He reminded the World that was a true genocide and blasted the UN for bearing partial responsibility for Srebrenica genocide.

Dr Haris Silajdzic, the presiding member of the presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, visited New York last week and started his seven-day summit to remind the World to be more pro-active in preventing genocides and correcting past mistakes.

At the initiative of American-Jewish Committee, Dr Silajdzic met with the Jewish delegation, led by Mr Andrew Bauer and Mr Herbert Bloc, and thanked them for the help their Committee was giving Bosnia so far. Dr Silajdzic attended the opening ceremony of the 4th Annual Meeting of Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a meeting about developing needs of the world, organized by Bill Clinton, former President of the USA. He also attended the reception organized by US President George Bush for presidents who have peace troops stationed in Iraq, and the one organized by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for heads of state attending the UN General Assembly.

In his address to the UN General Assembly last week, Dr Haris Silajdzic has called on the UN to correct the mistakes made during the Bosnian Genocide. He has also demanded that the UN send the message that genocide cannot be rewarded.

“Some in the international community insisted on maintaining the arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council in 1991, thus adding to the obviously overwhelming military advantage of Milosevic’s regime that was bent on destroying Bosnia and its people. They justified this course by claiming that the lifting of the embargow ould add oil to the fire. The result, inevitably, was quelling that fire the blood of the innocent,” – Dr Silajdzic said.

The president of Bosnia-Herzegovina quoted the International Red Cross Committee data which says that 200,000 people were killed during the Bosnian war, 12,000 of them children, while 50,000 women were raped, with 2.2 million people forced to leave their homes. “That was true genocide,” he said. “This was a veritable genocide and sociocide. The intent of the perpetrators of this genocide was to forever destroy the unique multi-ethnic fabric of Bosnia and Herzegovina through mass slaughter, rapes, torture, abuse, expulsion and plunder.” He added that “despite of this, defenders of our country conducted themselves honorably, as demonstrated by the ICTY acquittals of most of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s military leadership.”

Dr Silajdzic reminded the World about Srebrenica genocide referring to the International Court of Justice’s verdict, which stated that “those were the acts of genocide committed by the members of the Republic of Srpska (RS) army in and around the town of Srebrenica from July 13, 1995, until the end of the war.”

The United Nations must take action to reverse the de facto “ethnic apartheid” that has taken root in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of efforts to redress the failure surrounding the Srebrenica genocide, Silajdzic warned. The UN has acknowledged that, by its own acts and omissions, it is partially responsible for the July 1995 Srebrenica killings in which more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys lost their lives, casting a shadow over the world body forever, said Dr Silajdzic.

“We do not want the United Nations to be haunted,” he told world leaders gathered at UN Headquarters in New York. “This Organization’s credibility is too important to the world to carry the burden of this failure.” Rather, the world body must ensure that mistakes are not repeated and that past errors are corrected, Mr. Silajdzic stressed.

“Without righting this wrong, can we genuinely celebrate the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this December. Moreover, can we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Genocide Convention if the first and only judgment of the international Court of Justice on the crime of genocide remains in the archives of that Court?” – asked Dr Silajdzic. “Certainly, there are those in Bosnia-Herzegovina who would not agree with this, but they are surely not the victims of genocide,” – he added.

“We cannot bring back the dead, but we can give dignity and justice to the survivors,” he said. “What we say today is not aimed at the past, but at the future, and not only for Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Despite the positive results delivered by the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, many key issues remain, including the blocking of ‘minority’ returns by the authorities of the Republika Srpska, an entity within the country, by either directly taking part in violence or by not protecting people from attacks due to their ethnic background, Dr Silajdzic said.

One day ahead of Silajdzic’s speech in New York, the Serb representative in the Bosnian presidency Nebojsa Radmanovic sent a letter to the UN General Assembly stating that the address would be Dr Silajdzic’s personal opinion and not an official position of Bosnia-Herzegovina, adding that a three-member presidency did not reach a consensus on his appearance before the assembly.

Dr Silajdzic responded back with a letter to the UN Secretary- General, and the UN General Assembly President, in relation to Mr. Mr Radmanovic’s letter, sent to those officials. Chairman Silajdzic underlined in his letter that Mr Radmanovic’s claims in fact represent his personal view, and contain a series of factual oversights. First and foremost, Dr Silajdzic emphasized that the BiH Presidency, on May 28, at the 38th regular session, adopted a decision authorizing Dr Silajdzic, as BiH Presidency Chairman, to represent Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly, including the need for a general debate on that assembly. This decision was made unanimously, including the vote of Mr Radmanovic.

Bosnian Croat member of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Presidency, Mr Zeljko Komsic, issued a press release stating that “it must be clearly underlined and emphasized that, at least, Dayton Peace Agreement was not obligatory to sign, as well as April package of constitutional changes” for which Dr Silajdzic was responsible. “B-H Presidency Chairman Silajdzic should be reminded that unfortunately for most of B-H citizens, genocide was rewarded by the mere act of signing of Dayton Peace Agreement.”

In his address the UN General Assembly in New York, Dr Silajdzic said that the Dayton peace deal, apart from bringing peace, was intended to “annul the results of genocide and ethnic cleansing” and “was never meant to “maintain ethnic apartheid in Bosnia-Herzegovina”. He said that “rewarding genocide could send a dangerous message to the world that would most certainly jeopardize the chances for permanent peace and stability in Bosnia and in the rest of the region.”

Before his departure from Sarajevo to the U.N. General Assembly, Bosnian media reported that Dr Dilajdzic said that the Serb Republic was using a U.S. lobbying group to promote its interests among U.S. officials on issues such as foreign trade, diplomatic relations, and constitutional and other reforms. He accused the Serb Republic of trying to “position itself as a separate and independent international entity.”

The Serb Republic hired Quinn Gillespie & Associates LCC in 2007 for about $1.5 million per year to lobby for what it said were its cultural, economic and sports interests.

Dr Silajdzic is also widely quoted in the Bosnian media as saying that he will take the Serb Republic to the constitutional court over its decision to pull out from the state electricity network it formed along with the federation to enable Bosnia to join the southeast Europe’s energy community. The international community involved in the implementation of Bosnia’s peace process said the Serb Republic’s move was illegal and asked the government to revoke it.

RADOVAN KARADZIC FACES TWO SEPARATE COUNTS OF GENOCIDE

September 26, 2008 1 comment

Quick Summary: Radovan Karadzic will face two genocide charges – one count for Srebrenica Genocide, and the second count for broader charge of Bosnian Genocide affecting at least 10 other municipalities…

PHOTO: You’re looking face of a Srebrenica Genocide architect, Radovan Karadzic (aka: Dragan David Dabic). The photo was taken during his initial courtroom appearance at the ICTY. Karadzic looked gaunt and tired, and he even shed few tears. In this photo, he is genuinely sorry for being brought to stand trial and face justice after 13 years on the run. Click here to see photos of his victims.

United Nations’ prosecutors have filed a second genocide charge against Radovan Karadzic this week. In order to speed up the trial, the proposed indictment contains four amendments:

“First, the Prosecution has updated, clarified, and further particularized its legal and factual allegations relating to the Accused’s individual responsibility. Second, the Prosecution has significantly narrowed the scope of criminal conduct underlying the charges. The Accused is no longer charged with any criminal conduct in relation to 14 municipalities; the indictment has been reduced from 41 to 27 municipalities. Third, the Prosecution has restructured the counts in the indictment and legally re-characterized certain underlying criminal conduct which was already charged in the Operative Indictment. Fourth, the Prosecution has provided more precise notice of the charges against the Accused, both in the factual pleadings contained in the body of the Proposed Indictment, and by way of seven schedules attached to the Proposed Indictment.”

Previously, in the first amended indictment, Karadzic was charged with genocide (count 1) and complicity in genocide (count 2). Now, the complicity in genocide charge has been removed and the single count of genocide has been split into two counts of genocide, each of which relates to one of the two distinct periods and locations. Two separate counts of Genocide relate to 10 municipalities and Srebrenica. The single count of genocide originally related to two distinct time periods and geographic locations, namely between July 1st 1991 and December 1992 in various municipalities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and between early March 1995 and November 1995 in Srebrenica area. The motion to amend the first amended indictment still waits for an approval by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague.

The prosecutors and judges are trying to avoid a lengthy trial like Slobodan Milosevic’s, which lasted for four years and included nearly 300 witnesses without reaching a verdict on more than 60 charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, because Milosevic died of a heart attack.

Victims (Editor’s Pick):
Take a look at faces of Radovan Karadzic’s victims
Focus on
Concentration Camps in Bosnia

Indictment:
Motion to Amend the First Amended Indictment
The Prosecutor vs. Radovan Karadzic

MORE SREBRENICA GENOCIDE VICTIMS EXHUMED FROM NOTORIOUS DEATH VALLEY MASS GRAVE

September 22, 2008 9 comments

PHOTO: Forensic archaeologist Matthew Vennemeyer of Ohio, U.S., of the International Commission for Missing Persons, ICMP, inspects body remains in a mass-grave site in a remote mountain area near the village of Kamenica, Bosnia, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008.

More remains of the Srebrenica genocide victims have been exhumed from a mass grave in eastern Bosnia – some 30 kilometers from Srebrenica. Kamenica valley.

Kamenica mass grave is the tenth secondary grave found in the village of Kamenica, where Bosnian Serbs brought bodies to cover up the Srebrenica massacre – Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II. Around 4,000 complete and incomplete bodies of Srebrenica victims have so far been exhumed from 10 mass graves in the Kamenica valley alone.

“So far we have exhumed 97 complete and 180 incomplete skeletons,” Murat Hurtic of Bosnia’s Missing Persons Commission is quoted as saying to FENA (Bosnia’s Federal News Agency). The exhumation of Kamenica mass grave, near the eastern town of Zvornik, began in mid-August and is expected to continue for at least another week, Hurtic said.

The previously exhumed sites contained over 2,000 bodies from the July 1995 massacre. Serb forces overran the then U.N.-protected Bosniak enclave of Srebrenica in the final phase of Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war, summarily killing more than 8,000 Muslim men and children, and forcibly deporting roughly 20,000 women in a U.N.-assisted ethnic cleansing of the enclave.

The victims were initially buried in a dozen mass graves. But after the release of satellite pictures showing large portions of freshly disturbed ground, Serbs moved them to other locations in order to cover up the crimes. The body parts were separated during reburial using bulldozers, and forensic experts sometimes found parts of a single person buried in three different so-called secondary graves.

PHOTO: British forensic archaeologist Esma Alicehajic, front and Matthew Vennemeyer of Ohio, U.S., rear, members of International Commission for Missing Persons, ICMP, inspect body remains in a mass-grave site in a remote mountain area near the village of Kamenica, Bosnia, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008.

PHOTO: Forensic experts from the International Commission for Missing Persons, ICMP, inspect body remains in a mass-grave site in a remote mountain area near the village of Kamenica, Bosnia, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008.

Other articles in relation to Kamenica “Death Valley” mass graves:

Photos of Srebrenica Genocide Victims Misused by Serbian Nationalists (December 6 2007)
Short excerpt: This kind of propaganda can be only produced by the sickest minds in order to misinform the public; and this is what they have been doing for the last 15 years with their bold faced lies and propaganda…

Kamenica Death Valley Yields 616 More Corpses (November 23 2007)
Short excerpt: We found 76 complete and 540 incomplete bodies,” said Ismet Musić, an official of the regional commission for missing persons, standing on the edge of a muddy grave where white-clad forensic pathologists cleaned up bones. This brings the total number of exhumed bodies to over 4,200 just from the “Death Valley” area alone…

Srebrenica Genocide Trials and Mass Graves (September 18 2006)
Short excerpt: Ahmo Hasic “believed to be one of only 12 men who survived the slaughter of 8,000 Bosniak men and boys” told the judges he stayed alive only by playing dead after Serb soldiers started shooting.The trial chamber heard a similar testimony last week from Mevludin Oric who described how he lay under a pile of dead bodies for several hours…

Genocide Trial Without Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic (August 22 2006)
Short excerpt: “Defenceless men and boys [were] executed by firing squads, buried in mass graves and then dug up and buried again in an attempt to conceal the truth from the world.” Chief U.N. Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, said many victims had been bound and blindfolded “to make the murder easier for the executioners”…

Srebrenica Genocide: Crime Against All Humanity (August 18 2006)
Short excerpt: In Potocari on July 12 a 14-year-old Bosniak girl hung herself with her scarf after she and her 12-year old cousin were raped by Serb soldiers. By this time Serb soldiers had killed at least 99 people, including 20 to 30 women and children…

Kamenica Mass Grave Yields Over 1,000 Body Parts (August 11 2006)
Short excerpt: A 10-person team, including forensic experts from Canada and Serbia employed by the Bosnia-based International Commission on Missing Persons, worked in the 18-meter by 4-meter (60 ft by 13 ft) grave…

11th Anniversary of the Massacre (July 11 2006)
Short excerpt: Meanwhile, new Srebrenica victims were being unearthed at one of the largest mass graves discovered last month in the village of Kamenica, some 30 kilometers from Srebrenica. Among them – body remains of children; the youngest victim was a 10 year old girl…

More Victims Found as 11th Anniversary of Genocide Looms (July 6 2006)
Short excerpt: Forensic experts said on Thursday they had unearthed the remains of 268 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre – the first legally established case of genocide in Europe after the Holocaust – days before its 11th anniversary…

FUGITIVE GEN. RATKO MLADIC’S FINGERPRINTS MYSTERIOUSLY MISSING

September 13, 2008 7 comments
Hard-line Serbian nationalists would do anything to protect the indicted war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, even if that means manipulating, falsificating, or destroying the evidence…

PHOTO: Wartime Serb General Ratko Mladic, top fugitive sought by the International Criminal Tribunal, is regarded by many Serbs as “hero” for killing 10,000 to 15,000 civilians in Sarajevo – 1,500 of them children – as well as committing Srebrenica genocide and placing thousands of Bosniaks and Croats into concentration camps…

In order to prevent the capture of top war crimes fugitive, former Serb General Ratko Mladic, Serbs have somewhat changed their strategy. Instead of censoring evidence, like they had done in 2007 to avoid genocide judgment against Serbia at the International Court of Justice, now they destroyed Ratko Mladic’s fingerprints from Serbian police files.

Serbian justice system is a joke. Srebrenica genocide survivors were sick to their stomach when they learned that family of recently arrested top fugitive, Radovan Karadzic, knew about his whereabouts and even assisted him to evade justice. Before his arrest, Karadzic’s family lied on numerous occassions about not knowing anything about his whereabouts. Serbia refused to prosecute members of Karadzic’s family, and the war crimes court in Belgrade never responded to our e-mails demanding the prosecution of these criminals who publicly admitted their involvement in directly helping Karadzic evade justice. When NATO raided house of Karadzic’s wife, Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic, they found letters from Belgrade with initials Dragan David Dabic. She was known by putting up fake tears for the media and pretending to be innocent victim who never knew where her husband was. (related: see photo of visibly shaken Karadzic facing justice in tears)

In 1999, Ratko Mladic submitted an application form for an ID card in Serbia with his fingerprints. Now, that part of the documentation has been mysteriously “lost.” Mladic is regarded by many Serbs as a national hero due to his “heroic” slaughter of at least 8,000 unprotected Bosniaks (mostly men, as well as many children and some women), including putting thousands of Bosniak and Croat civilians in concentration camps (see photos), as well as the siege of Sarajevo – the longest siege in the history of modern warfare in which 10,000 – 15,000 people died, including 1,500 children. The fingertips are vital in the worldwide hunt to arrest Mladic and send him to the International Criminal Tribunal to face justice.

There is a $5 million reward issued for the information leading to the arrest of indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic.

Rasim Ljajic, the highest ranking Bosniak politician in Serbia, has confirmed that part of the information Ratko Mladic submitted for his ID card application has been mysteriously “lost.” Ljajic is also the president of the National Council for Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and leader of the Sanjak Democratic Party. Sanjak (or Sandzak) is a region lying along the border between Serbia and Montenegro where Bosniaks Muslims make up majority or 52.36% of population.

Ljajic stated that the information about mysteriously lost fingerprints “should not have come out in public,” but said that allegedly an investigation is underway into the lost documentation.

Serbian Daily Blic writes that like Radovan Karadzic and Stojan Zupljanin, Ratko Mladic is using a false identity and documents in another name. Blic stated that this revelation has infuriated the new security services boss, Sasa Vukadinovic, on whose arrival it was ascertained that information was leaking out and reaching Mladic himself.

The Blic daily newspaper quoted Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic as saying that Mladic’s capture will be a much tougher job than the arrest in July of another genocide suspect, Radovan Karadzic.

“The inner circle of guards around Ratko Mladic includes people who are ready to use weapons at any moment. That is why the arrest of the most wanted … suspect is much harder than was the case with Karadzic,” – Vukcevic said. He expects Mladic’s quick arrest, but predicted that the fugitive is in fact not hiding in disguise like his recently captured partner in crime Radovan Karadzic.

DUTCH COURT DISMISSES SREBRENICA CASE AGAINST NETHERLANDS

September 11, 2008 4 comments

“One could not have expected a different verdict, because we are dealing with the state, which doesn’t want to accept its responsibility.” – Munira Subasic.

PHOTO: Relatives Mehida Mustafic-Majic, sitting left, her daughter Alma, center, and her son Damir, right, leave the court after the verdict at the District Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.

A Dutch civil court sided with the Dutch state and dismissed the case against the Netherlands for their failure to prevent Srebrenica genocide in 1995. The Srebrenica enclave had been declared a UN “Safe Haven” under the control of Dutchbat before the massacre took place. Dutch soldiers allowed Serb forces to take away more than 8,000 Bosniak men, children, and elderly – actions which resulted in the worst massacre and the first genocide since the World War II in Europe. Thousands of Bosniak women were forcibly deported from the enclave in a U.N.-assisted ethnic cleansing.

The lawsuit against the Netherlands was brought by Hasan Nuhanovic and the family of Rizo Mustafic. Nuhanovic is a survivor of Srebrenica genocide who lost his mother, father and brother in the massacre. Mustafic, who worked as an electrician in the U.N. force’s Dutch battalion (Dutchbat), also died during the Srebrenica genocide. The plaintiffs claimed that both the UN and the Dutch troops failed to take effective action to prevent the massacre, thus violating the UN Convention on genocide.

In June, the Dutch court also rejected another lawsuit brought forward by the association Mothers of Srebrenica, which sought to sue the UN for damages for having failed to protect local civilians and to prevent the massacre.

The latest court ruling said that the Dutch soldiers had acted under the UN flag and the Dutch state could therefore not be held accountable, saying the “actions must be attributed exclusively to the United Nations.” The court ruling also added that if national courts were to start judging United Nations actions and operations, it could have significant negative effects on the future work and decision-making of the UN Security Council.

PHOTO: Hasan Nuhanovic talks to the media after the judgement at the District Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.

The president of the Mothers of Srebrenica association, Munira Subasic, who lost 22 members of her family in the massacres said that “One could not have expected a different verdict, because we are dealing with the state, which doesn’t want to accept its responsibility.”

“Many Dutch soldiers became mentally ill after their Srebrenica mandate where they witnessed mass slaughter and killings,” Subasic said. “It is also known that the Netherlands was sued by its own soldiers,” she added.

“None of the points we presented as evidence to the court over the last six years has been accepted. They have all been rejected. This is a total denial of all accusations presented by the two families,” said Hasan Nuhanovic.

“I have repeated thousands of times that I am not here to blame Dutchbat for their passivity,” Nuhanovic said. “I am accusing them of being active – in violation of the human rights of my family and other refugees. I noticed the judge read several times the sentence ‘under the UN flag’. They referred to the flag under which these Duchbat actions were conducted. However, these actions were conducted under the flag of the Netherlands as well.”

Hasan Nuhanovic said that he feels betrayed by the Dutchbat, “I have been betrayed so many times before by people in my life. The moment I was betrayed was 13 years ago was when I was working with Dutch battalion soldiers, UN officials who knew me and my family personally, they sent my family out to die.”

In June, Nuhanovic had told the court how the Dutch troops expelled his family from the safety of the U.N. compound in Srebrenica. “My mother was crying, I was crying. The only person that wasn’t crying was my brother. He was 22 and very proud. ‘Hasan, don’t beg them for my life any more.'”

Laywer for the Plaintifs, Liesbeth Zegveld, said it was unprecedented that the court did not recognise the suffering of the claimants in any way. “Justice is not a science. It is a choice to see it purely in legal terms.”

SREBRENICA GENOCIDE SURVIVORS AWAIT COURT DECISION

September 9, 2008 1 comment
Decision due on 10.9.2008 at The Hague in first civil court action brought by Srebrenica survivors against Dutch state

Why were Ibro, Nasiha and Muhamed Nuhanovic and Rizo Mustafic sent to their deaths when the United Nations had promised to ensure their safety?

Today the Netherlands District Court in The Hague will deliver its verdict on whether the Dutch state and its contingent of United Nations peace-keeping troops can be held responsible for handing over Bosnian refugees who had looked to them for protection to be murdered by Serb soldiers in July 1995.

“We hope that the Dutch government, along with the international community, will finally accept responsibility for the deaths of 8376 men and boys from the town and for their surviving relatives”, declared GfbV/STP General Secretary Tilman Zülch, speaking in Göttingen, Germany, today. “The eyes and thoughts of all the survivors of the massacre who hold the Dutch UN troops and the Dutch government responsible for the the death of their defenceless relatives are focused on The Hague. The judges must not disappoint them.”

In July 1995 Bosnians who had sought refuge In the UN forces’ base at Potocari were ordered by Dutch UN peacekeepers to leave the safety of the base and sent to face the prospect of certain death with Bosnian refugees already being killed and raped by Serb soldiers only a few metres outside the area under UN protection . The UN forces even denied protection to Bosnians who were known personally to them and to the family of their interpreter.

Six years ago the family of electrician Rizo Mustafic, who was murdered at Srebrenica, and Hasan Nuhanovic, whose parents and brother were also among those killed, began their civil action in the District Court at The Hague. They sought to hold the Dutch state accountable for the failings of the Dutch UN battalion. What the court has to determine is whether the Dutch government and the Dutch command within UNPROFOR should be held accountable for the shameful conduct of Dutch forces who were more concerned for their own safety than they were for the protection of the civilians in their care.

Hasan Nuhanovic lost his parents and his younger brother. His father’s remains have been found in a mass grave and identified but the fate of his mother and brother remains unknown. Many mass graves were subsequently dug up by Serb troops using bulldozers to conceal the evidence. The remains were reburied elsewhere.

Alma Mustafic, daughter of the murdered Rizo Mustafic, has written to GfbV that, “Deep in my heart I am hoping that the court will deliver a just verdict and that these crimes will not be trivialised or denied.”

Background: the tragedy of the Nuhanovic family: Hasan Nuhanovic spent the night of 12-13 July 1995 with his parents and brother in a makeshift office on the UNPROFOR base at Potocari, on the outskirts of Srebrenica, working to the orders of the Dutch officer Andre de Haan. De Haan, who was staying in the same room with them and a doctor and nurse, had in the past been a welcome guest of the family and had enjoyed Mrs Nuhanovic’s cooking.

Nevertheless he did nothing to help her as she came close to breaking down on hearing that nine men had been killed in the area in front of the UNPROFOR base . The following morning, between 5 and 6 a.m., de Haan said, “Hasan, tell your mother, your brother and your father they must leave the base.”

Nuhanovic has painstakingly researched the story of the terrible events at Srebrenica which he documented in meticulous detail in his 550-page book, “Under the UN Flag”, before taking his case to court.

Jasna Causevic, GfbV/STP’s Southern Europe desk officer, can be contacted in The Hague by telephone on +49 179 524 35 38.

DISTRICT COURT’S RULING AWAITED ON THE DUTCH STATE’S FAILURE TO PROTECT CIVILIAN REFUGEES FROM GENOCIDE AT SREBRENICA

September 9, 2008 Comments off
Judgment in two civil actions due to be given at 10 a.m. on 10 September 2008 in the District Court at The Hague (Prins Clauslaan 60, The Hague, Netherlands).

On 10 September 2008 the District Court at The Hague will give its decision in the first civil actions brought against the Dutch State by relatives of the victims of genocide at Srebrenica. Hasan Nuhanovic and the family of Rizo Mustafic are seeking to establish that the Dutch state is responsible for the failure of Dutch troops acting under a United Nations mandate to protect their family members who were massacred at Srebrenica in July 1995.

Hasan Nuhanovic, a U.N. interpreter who lost his father, mother and younger brother, and the family of Rizo Mustafic, an electrician employed by the Dutch battalion of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), claim that the Dutch government failed to protect the lives of their relatives after the safe area established by U.N. Security Council Resolution around the town of Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia was allowed to fall into the hands of the Bosnian Serb Army.

The Nuhanovic and Mustafic families were among thousands of refugees who sought protection inside the compound of the U.N. base at Potocari but were handed over by the Dutch UNPROFOR forces to Serb General Ratko Mladic. Dutch soldiers in U.N. blue helmets are alleged to have watched on as women and young girls were taken away and raped and men and boys separated before being taken away for summary execution.

In a tort action against the Dutch state in which much of the legal debate has revolved around the division of responsibility between the United Nations and national states, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld has argued that the Dutch government and the Dutch command within UNPROFOR were responsible for the gross negligence shown by Dutch troops, they were primarily concerned for the safety of their national contingent and they showed scant regard for the safety of the civilian population entrusted to their care.

The families have been concerned above all to establish the truth about why Ibro, Nasiha and Muhamed Nuhanovic and Rizo Mustafic were sent to their deaths in brutal circumstances when the United Nations had promised to ensure their safety.

The final hearing before the District Court on 16 June 2008 took place before the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, President of the Bosnian Serb Republika Srpska. Since the hearing Karadzic has been charged with responsibility for the genocide at Srebrenica and is currently in The Hague awaiting trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Contact person:Prof. Dr Liesbeth Zegveld, Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden (BFKW) , Attorneys, Keizersgracht 560-562, Amsterdam 1017 EM, Tel.: +31 20 – 344 62 00, Fax: +31 20 – 344 62 01, e-mail: <lzegveld@bfkw.nl>

Prof. Dr. Liesbeth Zegveld studied law at Utrecht. She obtained her doctorate with distinction in 2000 and was sworn in as an attorney in Amsterdam the same year. In 2005 she became a partner at Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden, where she is a member of the international law & human rights department. She has written many articles on issues in the field of international humanitarian law. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and a member of the International Law Association’s Committee for Compensation for War Victims. In September 2006 she was appointed professor of International Humanitarian Law, in particular the Rights of Women and Children, at Leiden University.