news 02 Jul 12

Croatia: Twenty Eight War Victims Exhumed

Twenty eight victims of Operation Flash, a Croatian military campaign conducted in May 1995, were exhumed last week in western Slavonia, Croatia.

Boris Pavelic

According to the Croatian government’s Administration for Imprisoned and Missing Persons, the remains were exhumed between June 26 and 29 in the village of Donji Rajic in western Slavonia.

“Following the military-police operation known as Flash, dead bodies were found in the wider area of Donji Rajic and buried as ‘unknown’ at the cemetery in accordance with the Geneva Conventions,” said the administration in the press release.

The representatives of the Serbian Commission for Missing Persons and the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons monitored the exhumation.

The remains were transferred to the Institute for Judiciary Medicine in Zagreb, where they are supposed to be identified.

“Information about the status of exhumed persons and other socio-demographical data will be known at the end of the process,” the administration said.

But a Belgrade-based NGO Veritas, claims that exhumed remains belong to western Slavonian Serbs who were killed in the Operation Flash.

“At least five of the victims were female,” the Serbian state news agency Tanjug reported on Friday, citing Veritas, “of these 12 preliminarily identified persons, nine were civilians, including four women, whose average age at the time of death was over 72.”

The Croatian army and police launched an attack on the Serb-held part of western Slavonia in central Croatia on May 1, 1995.

At the time, the area was under the protection of UNCRO [UN Confidence Restoration Operation], which failed to fulfill the agreement between the UN, the Croatian government and the local Serb representatives.

After two days of fighting, Croatian forces retook the territory that was held by Serbs since 1991, allowing the return of Croatian refugees to their homes.

But several hundred people died during the fighting, and most of the Serb population escaped to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Veritas says that since 2010, the remains of 110 Serb victims were uncovered, 41 of which were identified.

The NGO says that in March 1996, Croatia gave Serbia a list of persons killed during Operation Flash.  According to that list, the site in Donji Rajic had bodily remains of 26 people, 12 of whom have been identified and named, while others were marked NN [unknown].

The victims were killed mostly in their houses in the village of Paklenica, Veritas claims, adding that no one was prosecuted for that crime yet.

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