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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 11:39 GMT
Dutch open Srebrenica inquiry
Relatives of Srebrenica dead demanding a Dutch inquiry
Relatives insist the Dutch remember those who died
The Dutch parliament has begun a public inquiry into the deaths of more than 7,000 Muslims in the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia.

The inquiry will try to get to the bottom of suggestions of an army cover up to protect those responsible.

The murders in 1995 took place even though Srebrenica had been designated a UN safe area.

Widows of Srebrenica dead
Srebrenica was the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II
Serb forces overran the enclave, forcing back the lightly-armed Dutch forces protecting the enclave.

An official report published in April sparked the resignation of the cabinet and an army general. The report said political and military leaders had sent the peacekeepers on an impossible mission.

The inquiry will focus on the responsibility of politicians, government officials and soldiers.

More than 30 witnesses will be questioned, possibly including a number of senior foreign UN representatives.

The first witness was company commander Captain Jelte Groen, of the peacekeeping battalion Dutchbat, which was on the ground in Srebrenica.

Long wait

The hearings are being broadcast on national television.

Relatives of the Srebrenica victims have waited seven years for the inquiry, and the outcome could lead to damages claims against the Dutch state.

The April report blamed the Dutch Government and the UN for the tragedy.

But critics claim that the Netherlands needs to establish individual rather than collective responsibility - one of the committee's key areas of inquiry.

The committee's final report will be presented next January.

The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan in The Hague says the political fall-out from this public inquiry will not be devastating. But it may establish grounds for legal claims by Srebrenica survivors against the Dutch state, if individuals were found to have failed to prevent the massacre.

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The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan
"The hearings are intense and emotional"
See also:

10 Apr 02 | Europe
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