CNN - Dutch officer calls for parliamentary inquiry into Srebrenica

December 7, 1999

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- A Dutch officer in charge of U.N. troops in Srebrenica when the Bosnian enclave was overrun by Serb forces in 1995 has called for a parliamentary inquiry into the fall of the region.

Col. Ton Karremans, who has been implicated in Srebrenica's fall and the Serbs' subsequent massacre of thousands of fleeing Muslim civilians, told Dutch television Monday evening he had asked for the investigation to clear the name of his troops.

Karremans was in command of some 300 Dutch soldiers in Bosnia during what has been labeled the worst Western military failure during the 3 1/2-year Balkans conflict.

An estimated 8,000 Muslims were slaughtered in less than a week in July 1995 after the U.N.-declared "safe haven" for an estimated 30,000 Muslim refugees was lost to the stronger Serb attackers. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Dutch soldiers have been accused of collaborating with the Serbs, who separated men from women and children while the Dutch looked on.

In an interview on Dutch TV, Karremans said his men never should have been sent to the region because they were not experienced enough. He and the men were unaware of the fate that awaited the Muslims, he added.

The colonel's request for an inquiry comes just days after new video material was shown to the Dutch public in a series of war documentaries screened at an international documentary film festival in Amsterdam. The films rekindled rage over the failure by Dutch soldiers and the United Nations to prevent the Muslim massacre in Bosnia.

Previously unseen footage shows Karremans receiving gifts from then-Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic, who is wanted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague for genocide.

Srebrenica had just fallen when the recording of Karremans and Mladic was made, and Serb troops were unleashing their campaign of terror as they spoke.

The film "A Cry From the Grave," a British documentary, shows Dutch soldiers dancing and drinking after they retreated from Srebrenica.

In a report on Srebrenica released last month, the United Nations conceded that it failed to help the Muslims because of errors, misjudgment and "an inability to recognize the scope of the evil" taking place there.

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