Dutch state must compensate Srebrenica soldier : court
The Dutch state must compensate a former soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after his deployment to the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica in 1995, a top judicial body ruled on Monday.
The Centrale Raad van Beroep (CRvB), the Netherlands' highest administrative court, held the Dutch defence minister responsible, saying not enough was done to look after the soldier on and after his return to the Netherlands.
The soldier was identified in Dutch media as former corporal Dave Maat, and in court documents as the "Dutchbatter".
The name comes from the peacekeeping battalion of Dutch soldiers charged with protecting civilians at Srebrenica during Bosnia's brutal 1992-95 war.
As Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces on July 11, "a mortar landed close to the Dutchbatter... which led to psychological complaints", the CRvB said.
The court found that the Dutch defence minister "did not give enough after-care after ending (the) mission", in the conflict-ridden Balkans area "thereby not doing enough to prevent the Dutchbatter from suffering from permanent post-traumatic stress disorder", or PTSD.
"I hope that the minister will respect this judgement," Maat was quoted as saying by national news agency ANP.
"I hope to be able to start again," he said.
The soldier's lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops hailed a "landmark ruling for Dutch soldiers, but also for the rights of soldiers from other UN (peacekeeping) countries because the judicial boundaries of governments' health obligations for their soldiers are broadened."
He said the ruling also nixed the Dutch government's argument that the United Nations had ultimate responsibility for peacekeeping troops.
"As employer, the Netherlands remains responsible, also in a UN context, for the follow-up care of its own soldiers," he said.
In 2000, Maat asked the defence minister for compensation for his PTSD, but the authorities refused.
Maat took his case to court, which then ordered the Dutch government to reconsider its decision and the case went to the CRvB on appeal.
The CRvB found that "the minister has three months to decide on the (type of) compensation" Maat should be given, opening the door to similar claims in the future.
Some 450 Dutch peacekeepers, charged with protecting Bosnian Muslim civilians in the "safe" enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995 were overrun by the Bosnian Serb army under command of General Ratko Mladic.
There followed the slaughter of almost 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys who were rounded up, murdered and dumped in mass graves in the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.
The incident continues to reverberate in the Netherlands and led to the Dutch government's resignation in 2002, when a report was published laying much of the blame on Dutch politicians.
Mladic is currently on trial before the Yugoslav war crimes court in The Hague.
Source : Global Post America world news site
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