Dutch army chief of staff quits over Srebrenica massacre

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The Chief of Staff of the Dutch army resigned yesterday, a day after the entire cabinet quit in atonement for the role of the Netherlands in the worst massacre of the Bosnian war.

General Ad van Baal, 55, said he had no option but to go after a damning official report laid much of the blame for the UN peace-keeping mission's failure to prevent the Srebrenica massacre on the Dutch political and military top brass.

General van Baal was the second-highest ranking officer in the Dutch army in 1995 when 7,000 civilians were slaughtered at Srebrenica despite the presence of 110 lightly armed Dutch soldiers.

Mike Meyburg, of the Dutch Defence Ministry, said: "The report does not show him responsible for Srebrenica, but he agrees that he is not doing the army any service by staying."

The government of Wim Kok, the Prime Minister, resigned on Tuesday, admitting that it could have done more to prevent the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims by Serb forces. Dutch peace-keepers had been assigned to protect the UN "safe haven".

Queen Beatrix has accepted the cabinet's resignation but asked Mr Kok to form a caretaker administration to run the country until after elections in May. Mr Kok had announced months before the crisis broke that he would leave politics after the elections.

A Dutch newspaper reported yesterday that Mr Kok, 63, burst into tears when he read the Srebrenica report several weeks ago. Bosnia's Foreign Ministry described the move as an "act of morality".

Meanwhile, Yugoslavia's government piled pressure on war crimes suspects, publishing the names of 23 people wanted by the Hague tribunal and calling on them to agree within three days to give themselves up. Among those on the list are the Bosnian Serb wartime leader, Radovan Karadzic, and the military chief, General Ratko Mladic.

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