Experts Open 10th Mass Grave in Bosnian Village

August 15, 2008 - 7:56 PM
Forensic experts said Wednesday they had opened a 10th mass grave found near an eastern Bosnian village and that it may contain the bodies of up to 100 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) - Forensic experts said Wednesday they had opened a 10th mass grave found near an eastern Bosnian village and that it may contain the bodies of up to 100 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

The remains of 30 to 40 people were revealed when the forensic team removed the first layer of soil at the grave in Kamenica, said team leader Murat Hurtic.

Experts have already exhumed about 3,370 victims killed in the Srebrenica massacre _ Europe's worst mass killing since World War II _ in nine graves along the 7 mile (11-kilometer) road from Srebrenica to Kamenica.

In 1995, during the Bosnian war, Serb troops overran the town of Srebrenica, which the United Nations had declared a safe zone, and killed as many as 8,000 Muslim Bosniak men and boys.

The victims' bodies initially were buried at other locations. But after the end of the war and international pressure to investigate and punish Bosnia's wartime atrocities, the bodies were secretly moved in an effort to hide the crime.

Experts call the new locations "secondary mass graves" and say they are particularly difficult to work on because heavy equipment, including bulldozers, was usually used to move bodies from one grave to another. Parts from a single body are sometimes found in several different mass graves.

All graves found along the Kamenica road are secondary mass graves.

Investigators of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, gathering evidence, found the first two mass graves near Kamenica in 1999. The seven other graves were excavated by Hurtic's team.

"I'm absolutely sure there are more mass graves hidden here," he said.

Once exhumed, the remains are sent to a lab where they are identified through DNA analysis before being returned to families.

So far the remains of nearly 4,000 victims found in mass graves around Srebrenica have been processed in this way and buried at a memorial center near the town.