News 19 Sep 13

Bosnia-Serbia Collaboration Uncovers Strpci Mass Grave

Belgrade prosecutors supplied information that led their Bosnian counterparts to find a wartime grave containing remains of people abducted from a train in Strpci in Bosnia in 1993.

Marija Ristic

The discovery of the mass grave, believed to be the burial place of the bodies of civilians killed by Bosnian Serb paramilitaries in Strpci during wartime, was announced on Thursday after a meeting between Serbian and Bosnian prosecutors in Belgrade.

After the Serbian prosecution forwarded information about the possible location of the grave to Bosnia in June, the Sarajevo prosecution launched an investigation.

“Checks have been made near that location where the remains were found, and detailed analysis will determine who they belong to,” said the Serbian prosecution in a statement.

The civilian passengers - 18 Bosniaks and one Croat - were seized from a train travelling from Belgrade to the Montenegrin town of Bar, allegedly by the Bosnian Serb army.

The bodies of only three of those abducted have been found so far.

The only person yet to have been convicted of involvement in the abductions was Avengers member Nebojsa Ranisavljevic, who was jailed for 15 years by a Montenegrin court in 2002.

During their meeting on Thursday, the Serbian and Bosnian prosecutors also agreed further measures to help prosecute war crimes committed in Srebrenica in 1995.

It was agreed that evidence gathered by the Sarajevo prosecution will also sent to Belgrade, especially in two cases where the accused are currently in Serbia.

The first case is against former Bosnian Serb policemen Nedeljko Milidragovic and Aleksa Golijanin, accused of genocide in Srebrenica in July 1995; the second is against Milisav Gavric, who was a deputy police commander in Srebrenica in 1995, accused of committing, abetting, ordering and supporting criminal acts whose goal was the persecution of the Bosniak population on national, ethnic and religious grounds.

The case against Nedeljko Milidragovic and Aleksa Golijanin will go ahead in Serbia after Bosnian victims gave their consent.

“This consent and support for our work from the victims of Srebrenica is a big step and it shows the trust in the Serbian war crimes prosecution, but it is also an important step towards establishing the rule of law and reconciliation in the region,” Serbian chief prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said after the meeting.

After Belgrade and Sarajevo signed a landmark protocol to cooperate in the prosecution of war crimes suspects in January this year, suspects can be prosecuted in Serbia on charges filed by Bosnia and vice versa.

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