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Netherlands Probes Role Of Its Peacekeepers in Bosnia Massacre

The Dutch Parliament is investigating the role peacekeepers from the Netherlands played in the 1995 massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. It is an emotional issue for the Dutch, whose peacekeepers failed to prevent what a war crimes tribunal has ruled was genocide.

There have been other inquiries into what happened in Srebrenica during the summer of 1995 and who was responsible for what is regarded as Europe's worst massacre since World War II.

But this parliamentary inquiry, said its Dutch chairman, will be the last, as the committee seeks to find out definitively what role the Dutch played in the atrocities.

Dutch parliament members questioned the first witnesses all former members of the U.N. peacekeeping mission known as Dutchbat.

This inquiry is not expected to shed new light on the facts of Srebrenica. Seven years ago, Bosnian Serbs led by indicted war criminal General Ratko Mladic overran what was supposed to be a U.N.-protected area and killed 8,000 Muslims.

Rather, this inquiry will focus on the individual roles of the Dutch, from politicians to bureaucrats and soldiers.

An earlier inquiry found the Dutch government partly responsible for failing to prevent the massacre. The report said the government sent troops on an impossible mission with an unclear mandate.

Those findings led to the collapse of the government and the resignation of the army's top general.

The current hearings are scheduled to last until the end of this month. More than 30 witnesses are expected to answer questions during the televised proceedings.

The committee's report should be released early next year. Many Srebrenica survivors are hoping it paves the way for compensation claims against the Dutch government.