Posts Tagged ‘mass graves’


July 13, 2009 Comments off

PHOTO: A forensic expert works in a mass grave containing the remains of genocide victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre near the village of Kamenica July 10, 2009.

Forensic experts are excavating remains of the Srebrenica genocide victims from Kamenica mass grave near Zvornik. The lifeless bodies of children, teenage boys, men, and the elderly Bosniaks are being carefully removed from the grave and send for DNA identification. Personal objects found in the grave indicate that victims are Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica.Following the peace agreement in Dayton, Serb authorities had moved bodies in secondary mass graves in an attempt to hide the atrocities perpetrated against the citizens of Srebrenica.

Serbs from heavily militarized villages around Srebrenica had terrorized Srebrenica population and constantly attacked neighbouring Bosnian Muslim villages from 1992-1995.

In July 1995 the Bosnian Serb army staged a brutal takeover of Srebrenica and its surrounding area, where they proceeded to perpetrate genocide. Bosnian Serb soldiers separated Bosniak families, forcibly expelled 25,000-30,000 people, summarily executed at least 8,372 boys, men, and elderly, and dumped them into mass graves.

A forensic expert holds an old 100 German marks banknote found with remains of massacre victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in a mass grave near the village of Kamenica July 10, 2009.

Forensic experts of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) inspect the remains of Srebrenica genocide victims at a mass grave site in a remote mountain area in the village of Kamenica, near the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik, 75 kilometers (46 miles) north east of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Thursday, July 9, 2009.

Forensic experts of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) inspect the remains of Srebrenica massacre victims at a mass grave site in a remote mountain area in the village of Kamenica, near the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik, 75 kilometers (46 miles) north east of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Thursday, July 9, 2009.

The following Srebrenica genocide photos are from the Visoko morgue. You can see Bosnian city morgue workers in the central town of Visoko prepare on July 7, 2009 the coffin of one of the 554 Srebrenica genocide bodies to be transported and burried at the memorial cemetery in Potocari near Srebrenica.

Remains of all bodies were excavated from mass graves in eastern Bosnia and identified by teams of local and international forensic experts. The burial ceremony was held on July 11 in Srebrenica on the 14th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

[click photos for higher resolution]


July 9, 2009 Comments off

PHOTO: Amor Masovic, director of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Promot catalogue of the exhibition “Mass Graves in Bosnia-Herzegovina” (published by the Museum of City of Sarajevo) is also available in .PDF format on CNAB’s web site.

During the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina which lasted from early 1992 to the end of 1995, 27,734 people were listed as missing, most of them victims of genocide and other crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian law. More than 85% of these missing persons were Bosniaks.
Thirteen years after the end of the war, the mortal remains of about 20,000 missing persons who were citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been found.

The victims have been exhumed from primary and secondary mass graves, natural pits as much as 80 metres deep, mines, and multiple, single and other graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, and the Republic of Serbia.

A great majority of the victims have been exhumed from more than 400 mass graves, in which the mortal remains of between 5 and 1,153 people were found.

Of the 8,372 persons missing during the occupation of Srebrenica as a UN safe area in July 1995, the mortal remains of about 6,000 victims of genocide have been found, in most cases incomplete.

The quest for the missing, truth, justice and closure for the souls of the deceased and the survivors continues.

Amor Mašović,
Member of the Board of Directors
Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Why stage an exhibition of mass graves in Bosnia-Herzegovina
in the Museum of Sarajevo?
By definition, the Museum of Sarajevo, as its name indicates, is a museum that preserves accounts of the history and culture of Sarajevo Canton, and stages exhibitions to present them to the general public. The exhibition of Mass Graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina might in theory seem to take us beyond the scope of our mission. Why, then, did we decided to do something that is not “our area”? One explanation, a theoretical one again, would be that, as the museum of the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we wanted to dedicate an exhibition to the whole of the country.

In essence, though, the real reasons for our decision to hold this exhibition are quite different. They were prompted by the moral need to tell the truth, in both our human and our professional capacity. Much has been said about what the truth can do, but one thing is certain: however painful it may be, only the truth can help.

Those who witnessed these events, the people who have for years now been working unstintingly and determinedly to discover and investigate mass graves, the camera, as one of the tools of their trade, and the photographs taken as they worked, are all indisputable facts, constituting nothing less than a document – the truth.

As an institution reconstructing history through facts and exhibits, the museum uses photographs as both documents and exhibits. The photographs taken as part of the work of the Missing Persons Institute of BiH as they identified and exhumed mass graves were not intended to be works of art or to end up as exhibits in an exhibition, but were taken in order to document and testify to the work itself as it progressed and to what was found in the course of investigation.

It was these very photographs that were our inspiration for the exhibition, since they speak for themselves. Any commentary, ours or others’, would be superfluous. Judge for yourself!
The Museum of Sarajevo is holding the exhibition of Mass Graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its accompanying catalogue to mark 11 July, Remembrance Day, commemorating the genocide in Srebrenica.

Our intention is not that the exhibition in our Museum should be the last, but rather that it will travel around the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina and beyond. Let us hope that we shall succeed in this.

We should like to thank the sponsors who helped to make this exhibition a reality.
Our particular thanks go to Amor Mašović, Muhamed Mujkić and the entire team from the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Amra Madžarević
Director, Museum of Sarajevo

Some other reality
It is not my intention, even now, to put my name to these documents of horror; it makes me shudder to think that a project or exhibition-performance is to take place which is to add another item to my c.v. which, hand on heart, I must immodestly admit is quite impressive.

But I should like to thank the organizer, the Museum of Sarajevo, for encouraging me once more to launch and appear and, just briefly, to open the window a crack to allow out a sliver of the truth that, even now, slices like a sword through every attempt to forget.

As I visited our killing fields over the years, I realized that my Bosnia has so many wounds, wounds that may be almost impossible to heal.

All this time I have been trying to banish the ambiguities in the question: “what is reality, really?” The one beyond the line of the world that I see what I emerge from a grave pit, or the one down there, in the dark, alone with the remains of the souls that have abandoned both realities, this one down there and the one up there?

I am always in two minds, attempting to tell this reality that there is another, another we can speak of, another we must accept and call by its real name, resolve, and free of all simplifications, speculations and guesswork.

Bosnia is full of pain, this Bosnia of ours is barely breathing, and that’s how it is.

My Bosnia is heart and soul to me – and I have to tell you that both of them hurt.

Muhamed Mujkić
Missing Persons Institute of BiH
(author of the photographs used for the exhibition and the catalogue)

The truth is plain to see: There was Genocide

“To accept and understand the Truth, one needs an interlocutor who wants to see, accept and understand it,” Muhamed Mujkić of the Missing Persons Institute of BiH once said as we held one of our long conversations on the subject of genocide and mass graves. After working so long to assemble and present evidence of the Truth, he has had a variety of experiences. But the Truth is plain to see: there was genocide.

Men, women, children, new-born babies and old people were treacherously murdered, and their bones lie scattered around this misfortunate country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, sometimes in several places (primary, secondary or even tertiary graves). Their mortal remains, exhumed from deep pits, ditches, caves, bulldozed into the holes into which they were thrown, or found in the dense forests, landfill sites, warehouses and camps where they were herded together, tell the Truth. One can try to hide or camouflage the truth with skilful propaganda and manipulation, turning it into something different and alien, one can attempt to sweep it under the carpet and forget it, but it always returns to haunt us.

“We were led to one grave by the killer whose victims were haunting him and calling out to him in his dreams,” one of the team members, Samir Šabanija, told us.

As we prepared this catalogue and the exhibition we spent hours poring over the photographs, trying to understand them, even in part; to enter into the minds of those human beings just before they were murdered, their feelings, their terror, their trembling, their disbelief as they realized what was going to happen to them, their longing for their loved ones, their concern for them.

We have also tried to understand those whom they left behind, who have lost their loved ones. We can only guess at the pain that lances their souls and revives, again and again, the fire in their hearts; only they can know it.

We have no idea how their executioners and killers feel; what is in their hearts and souls.

More than 15 years have elapsed since this Truth first existed. It has been laid bare, it holds no more secrets; it is as we are, each one of us, before God. It is up to us to show it as it is, and to do so again and again, revealing it to everyone, if need be without cease until the Day of Judgment. If we stop, it will happen again.

Our thanks to the good, brave people (Amor, Muhamed, Samir, Sadik and the rest of their team) of the Missing Persons Institute of BiH for their persistence and their efforts, for their refusal to let the task drain their energy. Thank you in this world and the next.

Hamdija Dizdar, Aida Sulejmanagić, Moamer Šehović, Elvis Kondžić
Curators of the Museum of Sarajevo-authors of the exhibition


June 5, 2009 1 comment

PHOTO: Bosnian Muslim girl pays her final respect to 43 DNA identified victims of the Zvornik massacre. From 1992-1995, Serbs around Srebrenica committed horrendous crimes against the Bosniak population of Podrinje. Just in nearby Zvornik, Serbs had killed 1,573 Bosniaks in 1992. DO NOT FORGET.

CREDITS: All funeral photos courtesy of “Cupo.” We thank him for tirelessly documenting war crimes. He is an inspiration to all of us.

On June 1st 2009, Bosniaks paid their final respects to 43 civilian victims from Zvornik. More than 5000 people attended the funeral. So far, 617 victims have already been DNA identified and laid to rest in Gornja Kalesija cemetery. In 1992, Serbs massacred 1,573 Bosniaks in Zvornik.

Bosnian Muslim woman, Šeća Delić, said goodbyes to her two sons – Zijad and Sead.

“We have seen with our hearts and felt with our souls what they had done to us. Sead was only 17 years old. He was attending a school. I begged the Serbs to let him go. They knew he was only a student. Our Serb neighbours from nearby villages came and took my sons. They told me: ‘Go home. Nothing will happen to your sons.’ They also took my husband, my father in law, 19 members of our family. They killed them all,” said Šeća.

The remains of 70 more bodies of the Zvornik massacre victims are located in the Tuzla morgue. They are awaiting DNA identification. Ahmet Grahić, president of the NGO association – Families of Prisoners and Missing Persons from Zvornik municipality – invited relatives of the victims to come forward and provide blood. Only this way, the DNA identification process can be expedited.

In addition to the funeral of 43 Zvornik massacre victims, another 6 victims from the Cikotska Rijeka (Vlasenica) mass grave have been DNA identified. On Monday, their relatives were told to visit the local morgue in Tuzla. All victims were killed on 07.06.1992 in Šadići. The youngest victim was 11 year old girl – Senada Huric.

The list of latest DNA identified victims from Cikotska Rijeka mass grave include: (1.) Hurić (Murat) Alija, born 1926. (2.) Hurić (Halil) Suljo, born 1912. (3.) Hurić (Husein) Senahid born 1977. or Hurić (Husein) Senad born 1976. (4.) Huric (Husein) Senada born 1979. (5.) Hurić (Huso) Husein, born 1949. (6.) Hurić (Salko) Fata, born 1923.


May 27, 2009 Comments off
A new mass grave containing dozens of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide has been discovered in eastern Bosnia, an official said Tuesday.

The Srebrenica Genocide was the July 1995 killing of at least 8,372 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys, as well as the ethnic cleansing of 25,000-30,000 refugees in the area of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by units of the Bosnian Serb Army.

The remains of more than 6,000 of the genocide victims have been exhumed from about 70 mass graves around Srebrenica, with more than 5,600 people identified by DNA analysis.

PHOTO 1-left: Bosnian Muslim woman who lost her relatives, walks away after visiting a Srebrenica genocide mass grave in an attempt to identify remains, in the village of Mrsici near the eastern Bosnian town of Vlasenica , 60 kms northeast of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Tuesday, May 26, 2009. It is expected that dozens of bodies will be found, and identified by the DNA method.

The grave was discovered next to the house of a Muslim refugee who returned to Mrsici village, near the town of Vlasenica, said Lejla Cengic, spokeswoman for Bosnia’s Missing Persons Commission.

PHOTO 2-right: Local Bosniaks who lost relatives in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, attempt to identify victims in a mass grave in the village of Mrsici.

“So far we have found the remains of nine people, but we expect to find remains of at least 20 people,” she told AFP. Exhumation was expected to continue for several days.

Serb forces overran the then U.N.-protected Muslim enclave Srebrenica in the final phase of Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war, summarily killing at least 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Europe’s single worst atrocity since World War II.
Cengic said the site at Mrsici was a so-called primary grave which could ease the process of identification.

Victims from Srebrenica are in most cases found in secondary graves, where remains had been moved from initial burial sites in an attempt by Serbs to cover up the crimes.

PHOTO 3-center: A group of Bosnian Muslim survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide visit a newly discovered mass grave in the village of Mrsici near the eastern Bosnian town of Vlasenica, 60 kms northeast of Sarajevo, Tuesday, May 26, 2009.


May 5, 2009 Comments off

PHOTO: Dr. Thomas Parsons – director of forensic research for
the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The investigator Dusan Janac and director of forensic research for the International Commission on Missing Persons Dr Thomas Parsons, testified that so far 6,006 bodies of Srebrenica genocide victims have been excavated from numerous mass graves, but the number is not final.

According to SENSE Tribunal, the data on Srebrenica victims were already presented before the Trial Chamber in December 2007 by Dean Manning, head of the Srebrenica investigation team. In the meantime, new exhumations and identifications have been performed and the information has not been updated.

According to the report drafted by Dusan Janac, 5,358 victims have been exhumed from the Srebrenica mass graves; the remains of 648 persons have been found on the scattered along the route used by refugees to head towards Tuzla through woods and mountains.

The total number of victims currently stands at 6,006; this figure is not final as exhumations of newly discovered mass graves continue. Some mass graves have yet to be exhumed.

PHOTO: Dusan Janac – forensic investigator.


April 14, 2009 2 comments
Two new mass graves containing the bodies of Bosnian Muslims who were killed during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina have been discovered in the east of the country, Bosnia’s Institute for Missing Persons (INO) reported.

The mass graves were discovered on Thursday and Friday on Mount Romanija in Sokolac municipality and near Sekovici, east of Tuzla.

The first mass grave, near the village of Becari in Sokolac municipality, contains the bodies of Bosnian Muslims from surrounding villages, killed at the beginning of the 1992-1995 war.

The mass grave near the village of Bisina in Sekovici municipality, east of Tuzla, is in fact a natural cave that is more than 30 metres deep. It is filled with the remains of Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica killed in the summer of 1995.

The 1995 Srebrenica genocide resulted in ethnic cleansing of 25,000-30,000 people, including summary killings of at least 8,372 Bosniaks – men, boys, and children.


October 5, 2007 8 comments

Photo Caption: A forensic expert searches for remains of Bosnian Muslims in a mass grave in Zeleni Jadar, near Srebrenica September 25, 2007. Almost twelve years after the war ended in Bosnia, experts have discovered another mass grave with remains of victims of the 1995 massacre of over 8,000 Bosniak men and boys by the Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica. Reuters/Damir Sagolj. (Photo republished for fair use only)


On September 22 2007, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) said it discovered a mass grave of bodies of 44 Bosniaks who were killed during Srebrenica’s massacre in 1995.

And just as recently as October 4th 2007, the remains of more than 120 Bosniak civilian victims of the Srebrenica massacre have been exhumed from a mass grave in eastern Bosnia located outside the village of Zeleni Jadar, about 15 kilometres (10 miles) south of Srebrenica. This mass grave is thought to contain the remains of at least another 50 people, bringing total number of victims in only two locations to over 200.

ICMP said that the victims were shot to death and they included children who were between 7 and 11 years old.

This graveyard is one of many others in Srebrenica and leaders of Bosnian Serb forces did their best to hide their crimes.

Some personal documents had also been uncovered from the burial site, which was discovered in September. The remains were crushed and compressed, proving they had been re-buried with bulldozers.

Most of the victims’ remains were buried in a large mass grave before being moved by Serbs in an attempt to cover up the crime. Thousands have been uncovered from about 60 mass graves around the eastern town.

Bosnian Serb forces killed about 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in the Srebrenica genocide – the single worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

The main culprits for the crime – wartime Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and his army chief Ratko Mladic – remain at large.

The Srebrenica massacre has been recognized by the UN war crimes tribunal and the International Court of Justice to have constituted genocide.

In July 11 of 1995, Bosnian Serb forces with logistical help of Serbia, attacked Srebrenica enclave who received assurances from nearby UN forces that they will not be attacked on the basis of a Security-Council resolution that put the region under international protection.

Based in Sarajevo, ICMP was founded in 1996 to address the issue of persons missing as a result of conflicts relevant to Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia from during 1991-1995. It also handles relevant issues in Macedonia and Kosovo.

Related readings:
1. Srebrenica massacre grave yields over 1,000 body parts
2. Two cowards on trial for crimes against women and children


May 22, 2007 Comments off

Miroslav Deronjic, a former vice president of the nationalist Serb Democratic who was serving a 10-year sentence in Sweden for war crimes, has died of natural causes, Swedish officials said yesterday. During his trial at the International Crimes Tribunal, Deronjic had admitted ordering an attack on Glogova (a village in Bratunac municipality, just outside of Srebrenica) in 1992 in which 64 Bosniak villagers were massacred in cold blood. In his testimony Deronjic described former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as being happy about the massacre and rewarding him with a round of an applause. He implicated Serbian Army in the massacre and also testified that Karadzic ordered all Srebrenica refugees to be killed, quote:

[W]hat he [Radovan Karadzic] meant was that when our army entered Srebrenica and when the Muslim army in Srebrenica was defeated, that they would start pulling out. And I concluded that he thought that we should kill everybody we could get our hands on.

So on this meeting of the 8th or 9th, did President Karadzic actually say, “Miroslav, they should be killed,” referring to any potential Muslim prisoners?

Yes. And this is something I have told the Prosecution about. I mentioned this sentence to the Prosecution. I’m not sure about every word, but “kill,” I remember this word being used. He said, “All those who are down there, they should be killed. Kill all those you manage to kill.” That’s what I can remember. [Court Transcript]

After the Glogova Massacre, Deronjic went to Pale (war-time Bosnian Serb capital) to meet Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. When Deronjic walked in a large conference hall, Karadzic was sitting at a table with a map in front of him. With him were Bosnian Serb army commander-in-chief General Ratko Mladic and one of Karadzic’s officials, Velibor Ostojic. Deronjic said that when he reported that the village of Glogova had been burnt down and its Bosniak population deported, the three men broke into applause. “Now we can colour Bratunac in blue,” said Ostojic. Blue is a traditional Serb national colour.

During the war, Deronjic was chief of the Bratunac crisis staff, an ad hoc Bosnian Serb local government, during the time when forces under his control attacked the Bosniak village of Glogova in May 1992. Deronjic was the only person to be convicted for Bratunac related crimes in which over 600 Bosniaks died.

In a signed statement, which he gave to the International Crimes Tribunal, attached to his plea agreement was evidence implicating the Yugoslav army and Serbian police and paramilitaries in the massacre. In his statement, he said that, as a confidant of Karadzic and a central board member of the latter’s Serbian Democratic Party, he was aware that in the months leading up to the war both the Yugoslav army and Serbia’s interior ministry were arming Bosnian Serbs.

In mid-April 1992, volunteers from Serbia poured into the town of Bratunac, on the river Drina. They came under an agreement between the leaders of the Bosnian Serbs and Serbia itself, said Deronjic. The volunteers immediately killed some of the most prominent Bosniaks.

Deronjic, who was 52, had been convicted of ordering an attack on a Bosnian village Glogova in 1992 which resulted in a massacre of 64 Bosniaks.

The war crimes tribunal in The Hague sentenced him in 2004 and rejected an appeal the following year after which he was moved to Sweden to serve his sentence.

“He died from natural causes last night in a hospital in Sweden,” said Christer Isaksson, head of security at the Swedish Prison and Probation Service.

Isaksson gave no more details about the circumstances or place of Deronjic’s death.

Deronjic was a prominent member of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) in the Bratunac region of eastern Bosnia (just outside Srebrenica) during the 1992-95 conflict.

He was sentenced in March 2004 after pleading guilty to persecution, a crime against humanity, the previous year.

Yugoslav army and Bosnian Serb forces razed the village of Glogova to the ground, setting alight its mosque, homes, warehouses, fields and haystacks in May, 1992.

Sweden signed a 1999 agreement with the UN tribunal to offer prison space for convicted war criminals.

Former Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic is serving an 11-year jail term for crimes against humanity in a Swedish prison. Plavsic was convicted in 2003 by the UN War Crimes Tribunal.

As a high-ranking war-time Bosnian Serb politician, some of Plavsic’s statements included:

“I would prefer completely to cleanse eastern Bosnia of Muslims. When I say cleanse, I don’t want anyone to take me literally and think I mean ethnic cleansing. But they’ve attached this label ‘ethnic cleansing’ to a perfectly natural phenomenon and characterized it as some kind of war crime.”

As a professor of Biology, Plavsic promoted her big scientific discovery by claiming that Bosniaks were “genetically deformed.” According to her interview, her dream heroes were mass killers such was paramilitary leader Arkan who participated in the Eastern Bosnia massacres and ethnic cleansings. [more on Biljana Plavsic ‘science’].

Slobodan Milosevic, who was on trial at The Hague for 66 counts of genocide and war crimes, also died in prison last year in the 5th year of his trial. Milosevic’s death prevented a final judgment in his case.

In a recent mass burial of Bosniak victims in Bratunac, Bosnian Serb residents were unwilling to comment. Only Dragica Todorovic, a 50 year-old Serb woman was willing to speak about the burial site. Todorovic said she was sorry that part of a field she had used as a garden was now turned into a cemetery.

“I’m only sad about my potatoes. I will ask the municipality to reimburse my loss,” she said.


September 18, 2006 2 comments


More than 1,000 remains from 1995 Srebrenica massacre found in mass grave

Srebrenica Genocide, 7/11 1995The bodies of more than 1,000 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre have been exhumed from the largest mass grave found to date in Bosnia-Herzegovina, forensic experts said Thursday.

Experts began digging in June near the eastern Bosnian village of Kamenica, close to the border with Serbia, where they have found eight other mass graves. The team has exhumed 144 complete and 1,009 partial skeletons.

“This is the largest mass grave so far found,” said Murat Hurtic, head of the forensics team.

Along with the remains, experts found 14 documents indicating the victims were killed in the Srebrenica massacre, which became the site of Europe’s worst mass execution since the Second World War when Serb troops in 1995 overran the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, which the United Nations had declared a safe zone. As many as 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slain.

The excavation team said it found bullets mixed with body parts, and plastic and cloth bindings around the victims’ arms.

The remains were heavily damaged, a typical feature of “secondary” mass graves to which victims’ bodies are moved from an original burial site in an attempt to hide a crime, experts said.

Much of the moving in this case was done with bulldozers, which complicates the identification process because parts of the same body can be found in two or even three different mass graves, experts said.

Srebrenica Massacre, 7/11 1995Forensic teams have been uncovering mass graves throughout Bosnia in recent years, collecting the remains and extracting DNA to be matched with family members. Once a match is found, the body is returned to the family for burial.

Of the 3,500 bodies of Srebrenica victims excavated so far, 2,500 have been identified through DNA and some 2,000 buried in a cemetery in the Srebrenica suburb of Potocari, where the victims last were seen alive before being rounded up by Serb soldiers and taken for execution.

Witness played dead while those around him were executed.

The trial of seven Bosnian Serb military and police officers continued this week with the testimony of a survivor of the Srebrenica massacre who described in gripping detail the horrors he suffered after the enclave was overrun by Serb forces in July 1995.

Ahmo Hasic “believed to be one of only 12 men who survived the slaughter of 8,000 Bosniak men and boys” told the judges he stayed alive only by playing dead after Serb soldiers started shooting.

The trial chamber heard a similar testimony last week from Mevludin Oric who described how he lay under a pile of dead bodies for several hours.

On trial are Ljubisa Beara, Vujadin Popovic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic and Drago Nikolic, who face genocide and war crimes charges. Radivoj Miletic and Milan Gvero are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Hasic, 70, is not new to the court. In 2001, he testified at the trial of Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic, currently serving a 35-year prison sentence in Britain after being found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide.

In 2003, Hasic was also a prosecution witness at the trial of Bosnian Serb military officers Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic. They were sentenced to 18 and 19 years respectively for their role in the massacre.

Last week, as he had done previously, Hasic told the judges that on July 13 he was separated from his family in Potocari and taken to the nearby Serb-held town of Bratunac, where he and hundreds of other Bosniaks were detained in the Vuk Karadzic elementary school.

But the true horror began on July 16, when the prisoners were taken to the nearby Branjevo farm. According to the indictment against the seven, it was at Branjevo that approximately 1,200 Bosnian Muslim males were summarily executed by automatic gunfire from members of the 10th Sabotage Detachment, the Bratunac Brigade and others.

Hasic’s two sons and two brothers died in Srebrenica. Last year he reburied one of his sons after his remains were excavated from a mass grave near Srebrenica. He still hasn’t found his other son.

As he got off the bus, Hasic saw an entire field covered with dead bodies. Serb soldiers then lined up the prisoners from Hasic’s group and the mass execution began.

“I fell down before I was shot,” he said. “The bullets whizzed past me.”

While lying on the ground he saw more buses filled with Muslim detainees arriving, most of whom suffered the same fate. “The buses were unloaded, and the prisoners were lined up and then executed,” said Hasic.

Hasic lay under a pile of dead bodies for hours as Bosnian Serb soldiers walked around the field looking for survivors. “One man who was lying not very far from me said, ‘I’m alive’. The other one said, ‘I’m wounded, come and finish me off’. Serb soldiers then shot them both dead,” he said.

He continued, “I knew I didn’t have much time, because the Serbs would come back with trucks and bulldozers to remove all those bodies. So I waited until dusk, and crawled through the layers of dead bodies to the bushes at the edge of the field.”

There he found four other survivors. They all stayed hidden until dark, looking at the grisly scene in front of them. “There were between 1,000 and 1,500 bodies lying on the ground. They were all dead,” Hasic told the court.

The five slipped away into the forest after nightfall, but Hasic’s journey was far from over. The oldest man in the group, he was outpaced and soon got left behind and walked all night in the darkness, thirsty and exhausted.

In the morning, he found an asphalted road, but just as he began crossing, he saw a truck coming along it. “It was a Serb truck, full of dead bodies,” he said. He believes the bodies were being taken from the execution site to a mass grave.

“The driver told me to stop, but I kept on walking,” he said. “He probably thought I was a Serb too, so he let me go.”

Hasic spent another 10 days wandering the hills around Srebrenica, and was captured by the Bosnian Serb military again. He was transferred to the camp in Batkovic, under the watchful eye of the Red Cross, and released five months later.

Srebrenica Genocide Trial in Sarajevo

Witnesses at the trial of 11 Bosnian Serbs accused of killing Bosniak men and boys during the Srebrenica massacre offered the Bosnian war crimes court only limited first-hand recollections of the events of July 1995 when they appeared in court last week.

The case, which began on May 9 and is still in the prosecution phase, is the first and only genocide trial being heard by the Bosnian national war crimes court in Sarajevo.

The indictment alleges that principal defendant Milos Stupar, a commander in the Sekovici Special Police at the time, along with 10 accomplices – Milenko Trifunovic, Milovan Matic, Brane Dzinic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Miladin Stevanovic, Velibor Maksimovic,
Dragisa Zivanovic, Petar Mitrovic and Branislav Medan took part in killing more than 1,000 Muslims in a warehouse at Kravice, near Srebrenica, on July 13.

The defendants are also accused of being part of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at forcibly evicting women and children from the Srebrenica enclave after it was overrun by Serb forces in summer 1995. In February this year, they pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.

The three Bosnian Serbs brought as prosecution witnesses last week were there because they had been served with subpoenas. They were serving in Serb police and army units and were in the vicinity of Srebrenica when the killings took place.

In court, two denied they knew what was going on, while a third said he heard gunshots and was told prisoners had been killed.

As has often been the case during this trial, the witnesses’ evidence in court differed considerably from statements they gave to Bosnian investigators.

One, Stanislav Vukajlovic, told the judges that the discrepancies were the result of pressure put on him when he was first questioned by investigators. He said one had been “very rude” and had threatened him with prison if he did not cooperate.

Vukajlovic was a soldier in the Bosnian Serb army, VRS, at the time of the events in question. He told the court that in March 1995, he deserted the army and fled to Serbia but was arrested there and deported back to Republika Srpska shortly before the massacre. He testified that his unit was deployed in the Bratunac area around July 12, but that he “didn’t see anything suspicious” over the next couple of days.

Witness Milos Vukovic, a former member of the Sekovici Special Police, was a truck driver stationed in Bratunac at the time of the massacre. He too said he had “no knowledge about the events in Srebrenica and Kravice”. He confirmed only that he saw a large number of buses and trucks carrying women and children from Srebrenica to the Bosnian Government-held town of Tuzla.

Milenko Pepic, an ex-member of the same police unit, said that on the day of the massacre he was in the vicinity of Kravice and heard “gunfire and detonations” coming from the direction of the warehouse. Later that day, he passed by the warehouse and saw bullet holes all over the

He said a superior officer told him that “it wasn’t a good thing to shoot all those prisoners”.

The trial continues next week.


August 11, 2006 4 comments


By Nedim Dervisbegovic

KAMENICA, Bosnia – Forensic experts said on Friday they had unearthed 133 complete skeletons and more than 900 body parts of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Muslims at the biggest mass grave found in Bosnia.

The Jaz mass grave is the ninth site with the remains of Srebrenica victims to be found around the eastern village of Kamenica. Bodies were moved to the Jaz grave from the site of the massacre to conceal the traces of the crime.

“This is the biggest mass grave in Bosnia,” Murat Hurtic of the Federation’s regional team for missing persons told Reuters at the site.

A 10-person team, including forensic experts from Canada and Serbia employed by the Bosnia-based International Commission on Missing Persons, worked in the 18-meter by 4-meter (60 ft by 13 ft) grave.

Dressed in white overalls, they sifted through mud in the grave’s central part to recover skulls and bones, some complete and some mangled and fractured, as well as clothes and shoes.

The bodies were dug out from graves at the site of the massacre with bulldozers before being moved to Jaz, badly damaging many of the remains.

“We will continue with the exhumation for another two to three days and we expect to unearth more remains but it is difficult to estimate how many,” Hurtic said.

He said it was difficult to estimate too how many bodies could be identified from incomplete remains, but added that it could be hundreds.

Bosnian Serbs captured the isolated Srebrenica enclave on July 11, 1995, rounding up Muslim men and boys as helpless Dutch U.N. soldiers stood by. Others were caught while trying to flee through woods.

About 8,000 were killed in summary executions and buried in dozens of graves in the wider region of Lower Drina Valley.

Some remains found at the Jaz mass grave belonged to victims killed and buried at the nearby Pilica farm, Hurtic said.

Bosnian Croat Drazen Erdemovic, who admitted killing almost half of 153 Muslims executed at Pilica, was sentenced by the Hague-based U.N. war crimes tribunal in 1998 to five years’ imprisonment. He has served the sentence.

The excavation team found many bullets, some of them lodged among the body parts, as well as plastic and cloth bindings around the victims’ arms.

“We have also found many documents, fourteen of which could be read and they clearly show that the victims were people who disappeared in July 1995 in Srebrenica,” Hurtic said.

About 2,500 Srebrenica victims have been identified and buried while remains in 3,500 body bags still await DNA identification.

Close to 40 people were charged for the massacre by the U.N. war crimes court and Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian courts.