Dutchbat veterans to sue Dutch State for damages over Srebrenica

Concrete block at the exit of the compound of the former Dutch battalion ("Dutchbat") headquarters in Potočari near Srebrenica (Image MichaelBueker)Concrete block at the exit of the compound of the former Dutch battalion ("Dutchbat") headquarters in Potočari near Srebrenica (Image MichaelBueker)

A group of Dutchbat veterans who were at the fall of Srebrenica in 1995 are going to sue the Dutch State for sending the soldiers on an "impossible mission". They want a resolution including apologies and a symbolic amount in compensation, lawyer Micheal Ruperti confirmed to RTL Nieuws after a report by AD. 

Three years ago, a group of around 230 soldiers also wanted to take the State to court. But because Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld wanted to conduct additional research into the problems the veterans faced, the claim was suspended. "Since then, some veterans have the feeling that nothing concrete is happening", Ruperti, who is representing the veterans, said to the broadcaster. 

Ruperti expects that ultimately around 100 soldiers will want to go to court. So far about 20 joined the lawsuit. 

According to the lawyer, Dutchbat 3 has been held responsible for the failure of a mission for years, only for former Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert to acknowledge that it was an "impossible mission" in 2016. Since then, the call for a resolution has become louder and louder, the lawyer said.

Spokesperson Klaas Meijer of the Ministry of Defense told RTL that the Ministry is working on this case. They are in discussions with the Dutchbat 3 working group about recognition and settlement. There was no mention of compensation during the discussion, which happened on Monday. "A lot of damages have already been paid, but if people think they have still suffered demonstrable damage, they can always file a claim and we will look at it", Meijer said.

Srebrenica fell on July 11th, 1995. Dutchbat soldiers, working for the UN at the time, were ordered to protect the enclave, but could not stand against 2 thousand Bosnian-Serbs. Between 7 thousand and 8 thousand Muslim men were taken and killed.