Fri, Nov 19, 2004 - Page 6 News List

UN sued over Bosnian genocide

AFP , Toulouse, France

Survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre were set to file a suit in a French court Thursday demanding financial compensation from the UN for "abandoning" the Muslim enclave of Bosnia.

The case will be filed with an administrative court in Paris by the group's Toulouse-based lawyer Agnes Casero who told reporters that she was representing 329 Srebrenica survivors.

Up to 8,000 Muslim males were killed in the Srebrenica slaughter, the worst in Europe since World War II.

In mid-October the Bosnian Serb government issued a report on Srebrenica, admitting the scale of the crime for the first time since it occurred.

Serb authorities had previously downplayed the killing, classed as an act of genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague. However, the report's toll of up to 8,000 victims is in line with independent estimates.

Casero told in a press conference in Toulouse, southern France, that the suit could have been filed in another UN member nation, but that as she was a French lawyer the group had decided to take the action in Paris.

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his army commander Ratko Mladic, both charged by the UN court for war crimes and genocide in Srebrenica, still remain at large.

A Dutch battalion serving with the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia was tasked to protect Srebrenica Muslims, but failed to do so.

The entire Dutch government resigned in 2002 after a damning official report blamed the country's political and military leaders for giving their peacekeepers an "impossible" mission to protect the enclave.

In June, Srebrenica survivors had given the Dutch authorities a proposal for an out-of-court settlement for 2 billion euros as compensation for failing to prevent the massacre.

In July Casero began the procedure in Geneva by lodging a demand, addressed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. She warned then that a failure to reply would lead to action in the Paris court.

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