July 10, 2009
DNA Results of the International Commission on Missing Persons Reveal the Identity of 6,186 Srebrenica Genocide Victims and Support an Estimate of 8,100 Victims

PHOTO: Remains of the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide victims.

International Commission on Missing Persons

Through the use of DNA identity testing, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has revealed the identity of 6,186 persons missing from the July 1995 fall of Srebrenica, by analyzing DNA profiles extracted from bone samples of exhumed mortal remains and matching them to the DNA profiles obtained from blood samples donated by relatives of the missing.The overall high matching rate between DNA extracted from these bone and blood samples leads ICMP to support an estimate of close to 8,100 individuals missing from the fall of Srebrenica.

The ICMP has made to date a total of 12,520 accurate, DNA-led identifications of individuals from all of Bosnia-Herzegovina since ICMP’s DNA system went online in 2001. In the case of BiH, ICMP has DNA profiles from more than 69,051 blood samples collected from relatives and 25,033 bone samples from human remains on its database. The number of subsequent identifications made is much lower than this figure as more than one family member’s blood sample is needed for a positive match, and often several bone samples from a victim’s remains are needed for a positive DNA match.

Yet despite ICMP’s world-class forensic system, and despite having built the forensic facilities at Lukavac and at the Podrinje Identification Project in Tuzla specifically for the identification of victims of Srebrenica, their identification remains an extremely difficult, complex and time-consuming process. To expedite this process, more information is needed on the locations of burial and mass grave sites.

“The fact that ICMP has made nearly 6,200 identifications of Srebrenica victims is a remarkable success, and something that many people had said from the beginning would be impossible to accomplish,” said ICMP’s Director-General Ms. Kathryne Bomberger.

“However, it is a success of science that has sprung out of immense human tragedy: more than 520 bodies are being buried at Potocari this week, in addition to the 3,127 already buried here. Many families of Srebrenica victims are still waiting for information on their missing relatives. Many families who have identified their relatives are waiting for more remains to be exhumed from secondary mass grave sites before they bury their loved ones. So what we desperately need is for individuals with more information about the location of grave and burial sites to come forward.”

In many cases the perpetrators of Srebrenica removed mortal remains from one ‘primary’ mass grave and hid them in multiple sites in an attempt to conceal evidence of war crimes, thus leaving a trail of disarticulated skeletal remains, whereby body-parts of the same person can be found in different sites. In one case, ICMP identified a man missing from the fall of Srebrenica whose remains were found in four different mass graves two of which were 20 km from the other two locations.

The introduction of DNA by the ICMP as the basis for identifying large numbers of missing persons from the 1990’s conflicts in the Western Balkans enabled accurate identifications of persons that would never otherwise have been identified. The first DNA match, for a 15 year-old boy from Srebrenica, was made on November 16, 2001.

Source: International Commission on Missing Persons

  1. Марко Фризия
    July 10, 2009 at 5:20 am

    This is a scientific rebuke to the people who deny that large numbers of people were murdered at Srebrenica. Thank you for keeping the memory of these victims alive. We must never forget!

  2. Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor
    July 10, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Thank you Marko for your comment.

  3. owen
    July 10, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    "The math just doesn't support the scale of 8,000 killed." Notable forensic pathologist and mathematician Gen. Lewis MacKenzie writing in 2005.

  4. Anonymous
    July 10, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Can you please tell me, why is nobody mentioning almost 4.000 Serbian victims from Srebrenica and it's surroundings who were killed by Naser Oric's soldiers? I am not denying genocide, just asking for revealing of another side of the story. And when that happen, I will gladly support the idea of making Day of Srebrenica in Serbia, but not before that. Thank you

  5. Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor
    July 11, 2009 at 1:05 am

    Dear Anonymous,

    It is not true that 4,000 Serbs died around Srebrenica. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia already stated that these figures do "not reflect the reality" and "may have been inflated."

    Additionally, the Research and Documentation Center concluded that, "The allegations that Serb casualties in Bratunac, between April 1992 and December 1995 amount to over three thousand is an evident falsification of facts."

    Their data has been backed up by the experts working for the International Criminal Tribunal. For more facts and sources, click here.

    Thank you for commenting.

  6. Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor
    July 11, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Dear Owen,

    Thank you for a healthy dose of sarcasm.

    As you already know, ret. General Lewis MacKenzie has no authority to speak about Srebrenica; he has never been there. By his own admission, he was a paid Serbian lobbyist. Additionally, he never answered charges of rape.

    More about Mr. MacKenzie, at this link.

  7. kanitab
    July 15, 2009 at 1:15 am

    Where do these people get off saying that there are thousands of Serb civilian casualties? Where are the mass graves of Serbs??? Nowhere. They surely would have found them ,especially since this are the "Serbian" parts of Bosnia. My blood just boils when I read things like that of the above commenter. How ignorant and idiotic!

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