THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A top European court on Thursday dismissed a case brought by relatives of three Bosnian men murdered during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre who had appealed a decision by Dutch prosecutors not to file criminal charges against three Dutch officers for alleged complicity in the deaths.
The European Court of Human Rights said Dutch authorities “had sufficiently investigated the incident and given proper consideration to the applicants’ request for prosecutions.”
The decision marks the end of long-running attempts by relatives of Rizo Mustafic, Muhamed Nuhanovic and his father Ibro Nuhanovic to hold Dutch troops who served as U.N. peacekeepers criminally responsible for the deaths.
The three were killed after leaving a Dutch compound along with thousands of other Bosnian Muslims who had been seeking shelter.
Relatives accused the Dutch officers of effectively turning them over to Bosnian Serb forces, knowing they likely would be killed. They said the three victims should have been protected because they or family members had worked for the Dutch peacekeepers.
“That’s it,” Hasan Nuhanovic, whose father and brother were killed, told The Associated Press in Sarajevo. “All legal remedies are exhausted.”
The Dutch defense ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bosnian Serb forces led by Gen. Ratko Mladic overran the U.N. enclave in Srebrenica in July 1995 and killed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys. It was Europe’s worst massacre since World War II.
While the ruling decision ends the relatives’ quest for criminal charges against the commander of the Dutch battalion of peacekeepers, Thom Karremans, and two other officers, relatives of the dead won an earlier civil case.
In 2013, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the country’s government was liable for the three deaths. That landmark ruling led to an official apology to the relatives and compensation.
“My intention 15 years ago was criminal charges,” Nuhanovic said Thursday. “In the meantime it turned out it was easier to turn this into a civil case against the state, rather than a criminal case against individuals. Today’s decision proved it.”
Associated Press writer Aida Cerkez in Sarajevo contributed.