News 03 Nov 15

Bosnia Finds War Victims’ Bones Deep Underground

Human remains believed to belong to Serb and Bosniak victims of the 1990s war have been found more than 50 metres underground in a pit near the southern city of Mostar.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Radaca Pit exhumation. Photo: Bosnian prosecution.

The Bosnian prosecution said on Tuesday that skulls, jaws and other bones belonging to human victims have been found in the Radaca Pit near Mostar.

“The Radaca Pit exhumation has gone on for more than 100 days because we have information that the pit holds the remains of a large number of Serb and Bosniak victims killed in different periods in 1992, 1993 and 1995,” the prosecution said in a statement.

“Work on this exhumation is made difficult by the situation on the ground, since it is a deep natural pit, in which, according to the information available, bodies were thrown, and fell deep down, and were then covered with earth and concrete,” it added.

The search was made even more difficult by the presence of mines and police mountaineers were brought in to help.

The remains will now be sent for forensic processing and identification to the International Commission on Missing Persons.

The Bosnian authorities have so far identified around 23,000 of the 31,500 people declared missing after the 1992-95 conflict.

The prosecution last week announced that it had found more than 600 human remains - probably those of Bosniaks and Croats killed during wartime ethnic cleansing - during an exhumation of another mass grave in Jakarina Kosa near Prijedor in the north-west of the country.

In a separate development, as part of a meeting between the Serbian and Bosnian governments in Sarajevo on Wednesday, it is expected that a protocol will be signed on joint cooperation in the search for missing persons.

Nedeljko Mitrovic, president of the Families of the Captured, Killed Fighters and Missing Civilians of Republika Srpska organisation, told local media that he supports all efforts to speed up the search for the remaining missing, but doubted the protocol will have concrete results.

“We support the idea, but we believe this is only a formality which will confirm the already existing practice of cooperation between the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Missing Persons Commission of Serbia,” Mitrovic said.

He also expressed unhappiness that a landmark declaration aimed at speeding up the search for the missing which was signed in August this year by the presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia has so far produced no results.

The declaration is intended to boost cooperation between states and make the process of finding and identifying the bodies of the wartime dead less traumatic for their families, giving them the right to demand an investigation into the disappearance of their loved ones.

Radaca Pit exhumation. Photo: Bosnian prosecution.

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