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Dutch government says it will pay compensation to families of 3 Srebrenica massacre victims

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Relatives of three men killed during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre will each receive 20,000 euros ($28,000) in compensation, the Dutch government announced Thursday. Their lawyer called the amount "shameful."

The compensation announcement came seven months after the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the Netherlands was liable in the deaths of the three Bosnian Muslims because Dutch troops serving in a United Nations peacekeeping force should not have turned the men over to Bosnian Serb forces.

The three were among some 8,000 Muslim men and boys murdered by Bosnian Serb rebels in July 1995, in Europe's worst massacre since World War II.

Their lawyer, Liesbeth Zegveld, slammed the government for lowballing her clients after a case that dragged through Dutch courts for years, saying it did not appear to be an attempt to offer true closure.

"Clearly the amount is so low that the state did not want to close this chapter," Zegveld said. "It is shameful."

Defense Ministry spokesman Klaas Meijer said the sum was reached based on Bosnian law and the relatives could, in addition, apply for compensation for "material damages" like lost wages.

The compensation came in the week that 6,000 relatives of Srebrenica victims went to court in a separate case to sue the Dutch government for its failure to prevent the massacre, a claim the government rejects. The Hague District Court is expected to rule in the case in July.

The relatives offered compensation Thursday went to court separately because their menfolk were closely linked to the Dutch U.N. troops. One worked for the peacekeepers as an electrician and the other two were the father and brother of an interpreter used by the troops.

The Supreme Court said in September that in the chaos of the Serb takeover of Srebrenica, U.N. commanders no longer had control of the troops on the ground, and "effective control" reverted to Dutch authorities in The Hague.

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