The Netherlands' highest court said on July 19 that Dutch United Nations peacekeepers evacuated the men from their military base near Srebrenica on July 13, 1995, despite knowing that they "were in serious jeopardy of being abused and murdered" by Bosnian Serb forces.
The Mothers of Srebenica is an umbrella group formed by families and loved ones who say Dutch U.N. peacekeeping troops didn't do everything they could to prevent the Muslim men and boys from being slaughtered by Bosnian Serbs led by Ratko Mladic, the "butcher of Bosnia" who was convicted of genocide and war crimes in 2017.
But in its own ruling Friday, the Supreme Court, or Hoge Raad, said it "estimates that the male refugees had a 10 percent chance of escaping from the Bosnian Serbs, had they been offered the choice to remain in the compound".
"I think the final judgement is a bit disappointing, especially when you see the court ruling of 30% and now it's downgraded to 10%", said Remko de Bruijne, a former Dutch blue helmet who served at Srebrenica.
The court said however that the victims' chance of survival if the Dutch peacekeepers had attempted to protect them by keeping them at their base was only ten per cent. The bodies were plowed into hastily dug mass graves, which were later bulldozed and scattered among other burial sites in an attempt to hide evidence of the massacre. "We know what happened; we don't need this court to tell us".
"Up until this day it's a matter of concern for the Netherlands but also for the peacekeepers", Bouknegt said. Munira Subasic, one of the people who brought the case, said on Friday that the Dutch were "responsible and they will always have a stain".
"The knife cuts at two edges in the debate in the Netherlands".
This was lower than the 30 per cent chance of survival determined under previous rulings handed down by the Dutch courts in the case. Three years later, the appeals court upheld that decision after an appeal by the Mothers of Srebrenica association, before it was referred to the Supreme Court.
A Dutch court originally held the state liable for compensation in 2014.
In January, the Supreme Court's Advocate General issued a non-binding advisory opinion calling the 2017 judgment "irrational" and saying it "cannot be upheld".
A 2002 report by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation found that the Dutchbat had been sent "on a mission with a very unclear mandate", that they had not had "adequate training" and that it had been deployed "virtually without military and political intelligence work to gauge the political and military intentions of the warring parties".
The case of Srebrenica has previously provoked introspection for the Netherlands.