THE HAGUE (AP) — The Netherlands is liable for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslim men who were killed by Serbs during the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, appeals court judges ruled in a civil suit on Tuesday. They ordered the Dutch government to compensate the men’s relatives.

The ruling could open the way to other compensation claims by people who contend their male relatives should have been protected by the Dutch United Nations peacekeepers in charge of the designated “safe zone” near Srebrenica during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war. The same appeals court in The Hague has dismissed such claims in the past, however. The decision could also have implications for countries that send troops on United Nations peacekeeping missions, because it creates the precedent of a national government being taken to court for the actions of its troops, even when they are under the control of the United Nations.

The case involving the deaths of the three men at Srebrenica was brought by Hasan Nuhanovic, an interpreter who lost his brother and father, and by relatives of Rizo Mustafic, an electrician who was also killed. They argued that all three men should have been protected by Dutch peacekeepers. Mr. Mustafic and Mr. Nuhanovic were employed by the Dutch peacekeepers, but Mr. Nuhanovic’s father and brother were not. “I am very happy, finally,” said one of the relatives, Damir Mustafic. “It has been a long case.” The victims were among thousands of Muslims who took shelter in a United Nations compound as Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Gen. Ratko Mladic overran Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, in what became the bloody climax to the Bosnian war, in which 100,000 people were killed.

Two days later, the outnumbered Dutch peacekeepers bowed to pressure from Mr. Mladic’s troops and forced thousands of Muslim families out of the compound. Bosnian Serb forces then sorted the Muslims by gender, trucked the males away and began executing 8,000 Muslim men and boys.