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Dutch state 'sent Bosnians to death at Srebrenica'

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    A broken skull lays exhumed in a newly discovered mass grave near the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, on July 11, 2007. The Dutch state is responsible for sending three Bosnian Muslims to their deaths when they were expelled from a UN compound at Srebrenica in 1995, according to the Dutch supreme court.AFP/File

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    Photo taken on July 12, 1995 from the Dutch TV channel NOS shows Dutch soldiers standing in front of hundreds of Bosnian Muslim refugees in Potocari, the UN compound near Srebrenica.ANP/AFP/File

The Dutch state is responsible for sending three Bosnian Muslims to their deaths when they were expelled from a UN compound at Srebrenica in 1995, the supreme court ruled Friday.

"The (appeals) court decision is upheld," Judge Floris Bakels said as relatives of the victims broke down in tears and hugged each other.

The final ruling in the long-running case means that former UN interpreter Hasan Nuhanovic, whose father, mother and brother were killed by Bosnian Serb forces after Dutch peacekeepers expelled them from the UN base, can seek compensation from the Dutch state.

The ruling also applies to relatives of another worker on the base, electrician Rizo Mustafic, who was also killed after being sent to certain death at the hands of Bosnian Serb forces.

Nuhanovic's mother, Nasiha, was killed although her death was not part of the current case.

The three men at the centre of the case were among almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys slaughtered by troops commanded by Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, who brushed aside lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers and overran the supposedly safe enclave in July 1995, during Bosnia's brutal three-year civil war.

Friday's hearing in The Hague is the culmination of a case spanning a decade, lodged in 2003 by Nuhanovic and Mustafic's relatives, who claim the three men -- who all worked on the Dutch battalion (Dutchbat) base -- could have been saved in what became Europe's worst massacre since World War II.