629 Bodies Unearthed in Bosnia


October 4, 2003


Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Forensic experts have

completed the exhumation of 629 bodies at Bosnia's

largest known mass grave, an official said Friday.

The remains were unearthed at a hill near the border

with Serbia, about 50 miles northeast of Sarajevo,

said Murat Hurtic, head of the regional branch of the

Muslim Commission for Missing Persons.

Clothing and documents showed the victims were mostly

civilian Muslims killed by local Serb troops between

April and June 1992 in and around the eastern town of

Zvornik, Hurtic said.

It was the 14th mass grave found in Bosnia this year.

"It is by far the biggest mass grave in Bosnia, also

in terms of the number of women and children found,"

Hurtic said. "We found bodies with hands tied behind

them with thick rope," he said, adding this was

evidence the victims were executed after being taken


Hurtic said in some cases whole families were believed

to have been slaughtered, leaving no relatives to even

report them as missing persons.

"We are moving on, searching for the next site,"

Hurtic said. "I will continue to work until the last

grave is found, even if it takes my entire life."

About 250,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed

during the war between local Muslims, Croats and Serbs

that began in 1992 and ended 3 1/2 years later. So

far, forensic experts have exhumed 16,500 bodies from

more than 300 mass graves throughout Bosnia.

Most of those accused of committing or ordering these

killings are still at large, including Radovan

Karadzic, the wartime leader of Bosnia's Serbs, and

Gen. Ratko Mladic, his military commander.

The chief UN war crimes prosecutor arrived in Belgrade

Friday to press again for the arrest of Mladic and

other fugitives. Previous such efforts by prosecutor

Carla Del Ponte have largely failed.

The war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, was

established by the United Nations to try those

responsible for atrocities committed during the Balkan

wars in the 1990s. Slobodan Milosevic, the former

Yugoslav president, is being tried by the tribunal for

his alleged role in the atrocities in Bosnia and the

other Balkan wars. 

Copyright  2003, Newsday, Inc. 


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