- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2002

AMSTERDAM The Dutch army's top general resigned yesterday, a day after the government quit over the failure of its peacekeepers to prevent a massacre of Muslims in Bosnia in 1995. Relatives of the victims demanded the government pay compensation.

Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ad van Baal stepped down, taking responsibility for mistakes made by military commanders that led to the massacre.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, called for a parliamentary inquiry into the fall of the U.N.-declared safe area at Srebrenica in July 1995 when Serbian troops killed at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys.

Prime Minister Wim Kok, who resigned Tuesday, said he would cooperate with an inquiry, but noted a government commission already investigated how the Dutch peacekeepers acted during the weeklong orgy of murder by Bosnian Serbs.

The report, issued last week, said politicians had not given Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica the orders or weapons to stop the Serbian troops that overran the U.N.-declared "safe area." It also said the army leadership withheld information about the weeklong massacre to protect the military's reputation.

Mr. van Baal a deputy army commander at the time told Defense Minister Frank de Grave in a letter that he was "no longer able to serve the interests of the Royal Army."

Mr. Kok, prime minister at the time of the Srebrenica massacre, was praised at a special parliamentary session yesterday for his decision to resign.

"This act can help in offering comfort to the relatives of the victims," said Liberal Party leader Hans Dijkstal, a coalition ally of Mr. Kok, a Social Democrat.

But in Bosnia, groups representing the families of the victims said the Dutch should arrest and punish those who didn't stop the killings and should pay compensation.

"We expect Holland's government to extend their program of assistance to families of those killed and missing, and to make a process of financial restitution to families of Srebrenica's victims," said a statement by the Bosnian Chapter of the Society of Threatened Peoples.

Lawmakers renewed calls for the arrest of those guilty of orchestrating genocide in the Balkans, notably ex-Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and then-military chief Ratko Mladic, who commanded the troops who killed Muslims in Srebrenica. The two are the most-wanted suspects at the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

Some 200 lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers stood by as Gen. Mladic ordered Muslim men and women in Srebrenica separated. The women were deported, and the men and boys were executed.

Last week's report said that Dutch troops were hampered by orders not to fire unless fired upon, and that the military command had not provided the mandate needed to respond to 1,500 Serbian troops.

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