The Dutch Supreme Court upheld Friday a lower court's ruling that the Netherlands is partially liable in the deaths of some 350 Muslim men who were murdered by Bosnian Serb forces during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
"Dutch courts have since sided with victims' families but a 2014 ruling in the Hague limited the scope of the Netherlands' responsibilities to 350 men who were expelled from the Dutch UN base on July 13 1995 despite Dutch troops knowing they might get killed".
"Dutchbat (Dutch battalion troops) acted unlawfully in the evacuation of 350 men".
The Supreme Court said that relatives of the slain men are eligible to claim 10% of their financial damages because the court estimated that the men would have had a 10% chance of survival if the Dutch troops had allowed them to remain inside their compound.
There was a small but not negligible chance that the men could have escaped death, the court found.
In 2002, the then-prime minister Wim Kok and his government resigned, acknowledging its failure to protect Bosniaks in the enclave, following a scathing report that blamed the Dutch government and senior military officials for failing to prevent the genocide.
He added that the Mothers of Srebrenica association, which brought the case to the Dutch courts, was now discussing with its lawyers the possibility of taking it to the International Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. "The state's liability is thus limited to 10 percent of the damages suffered by the surviving relatives of approximately 350 victims".
The decision by the Supreme Court, following two previous rulings by the Dutch courts, is final and can not be appealed.
Munira Subasic, the president of the Mothers of Srebenica organisation that sued the Dutch government for compensation, sparking the years-long legal battle, said: "Today we experienced humiliation upon humiliation".
The case was escalated to the highest court because the state wanted to be cleared of responsibility, while the Mothers of Srebrenica wanted it to be held accountable for all 8,000 deaths in the massacre. Ratko Mladic was sentenced to life in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity in 2017.
The court ruling determined that from the evening of July 12, the Dutch Battalion knew that Bosnian Serb forces were separating men from women and children and that there was a danger that they might be abused and killed.
Photos of victims in front of the court earlier this year.
In a swipe at the failure of other foreign powers to act during the 1995 crisis, the top court added that the "chance of Dutchbat (the Dutch UN mission) receiving effective support from the global community was slim".
An appeals court had previously set the liability at 30%, but the supreme court's ruling has drastically reduced that figure. According to this ruling, the Netherlands is bound to pay compensation to the families of the victims, but the amount of compensation is not specified.