Srebrenica relatives sue Netherlands in European court

STRASBOURG, France Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:28pm EDT

Lightning is seen during a storm under the Memorial Center in Potocari the night before a mass burial, near Srebrenica July 10, 2012. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Lightning is seen during a storm under the Memorial Center in Potocari the night before a mass burial, near Srebrenica July 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

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STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Relatives of Bosnian Muslims massacred in the town of Srebrenica sued the Netherlands on Thursday at the European Court of Human Rights over a Dutch court ruling that said the United Nations had immunity from prosecution.

Some 8,000 Muslim boys and men were killed by Serb forces in July 1995 in an area protected by Dutch U.N. peacekeepers that the United Nations had declared a "safe haven".

Lawyers for the group had tried to sue the United Nations in the Netherlands for failing to stop the killing. But the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the United Nations could not be prosecuted by a national court, ending the attempt to hold it to account for failing to prevent the genocide.

Dutch lawyers for the Mothers of Srebrenica survivors' group said they were suing the Netherlands over the decision for "granting absolute immunity to the United Nations".

"The denial of justice is even more horrendous because the United Nations is denying them all legal recourse," the Van Diepen-Van der Kroef law firm said in a statement.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg said it had received the complaint.

The slaughter of Muslims, judged an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, was the worst atrocity of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, in which about 100,000 people died.

Inexperienced and outgunned Dutch U.N. peacekeepers were unable to prevent attacking Serb fighters from capturing Srebrenica, separating Bosnian Muslim men from women and taking them in buses to dozens of execution sites.

Last year, a Dutch court found the Dutch state responsible for the deaths of three victims, opening the way for compensation claims over the failed peacekeeping mission.

(Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac; Writing by Nick Vinocur; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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