A Dutch ruling that the Netherlands was only partially liable for the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in Srebrenica sparked outrage from friends and relatives of the victims in Bosnia. "A shameful verdict!", wrote Bosnia's Dnevni Avaz newspaper on its front page, calling the decision a "new injustice and a new humiliation for the victims".
A court in The Hague Tuesday ruled the Dutch state had acted unlawfully, ordering the country to pay partial damages to the families of 350 victims, around 30 percent of the damages and interest requested. But friends and relatives of the victims wanted the court to declare the country responsible for the massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys, saying the Dutch U.N. contingent charged with protecting the region had failed.
Judge Gepke Dulek Tuesday said the Dutch court stopped short of awarding full compensation because it was "uncertain" whether the men would have survived if they had remained inside the Dutch base.
Both the Dutch state and the relatives of victims had appealed a 2014 ruling that the state was liable for the deaths of some 350 men who left the base.
"This verdict is shameful. We will not accept it," said Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica.
Murat Tahirovic, who heads a campaign group of victims and witnesses of genocide said the court's ruling was an attempt to "exonerate the Netherlands to the maximum while minimising their responsibility as much as possible". Still, the ruling serves as judicial "confirmation of the Netherlands' joint responsibility in the genocide of Srebrenica", Tahirovic added.
Europe's worst atrocity since World War II, the killing in Srebrenica by former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic in 1995 is considered an act of genocide by international judges.
The Dutch government resigned in 2002 after acknowledging its failure to protect the refugees, though the Netherlands maintains that the Bosnian Serbs, not Dutch troops, bear responsibility for the killings.
On July 13, 1995, Dutch peacekeepers bowed to pressure from Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic and forced thousands of Muslims out of their fenced-off compound, where they had sought refuge.
The Bosnian Serb forces sorted the Muslims by gender, then trucked the males away and began killing them in what would become the bloody climax to the 1992-95 Bosnian war, a slaughter that international courts have ruled was genocide. The war claimed 100,000 lives in all.
The Srebrenica bodies were plowed into hastily made mass graves, which were later bulldozed and scattered among other burial sites in an attempt to hide the evidence.