Mass Grave In Bosnia Yields Hundreds Of Remains

Forensic experts are excavating what could be the largest mass grave in Bosnia, filled with victims of ethnic cleansing during the former Yugoslavia’s bloody civil war.

To date, the largest mass grave in Bosnia was at Crni Vrh in Srebrenica, where 629 bodies were discovered. The massacre in Srebrenica is the most notorious atrocity carried out by Bosnian Serb forces.

While the Tomasica site’s existence was known for years, its exact location was covered up by local Serb witnesses until recently, reports Reuters.

Mujo Begic, the forensic team supervisor, commented, “We conducted the investigation for to years and finally found people who were willing to talk.” Some witnesses who finally came forward were former separatist Bosnian Serb fighters who couldn’t keep the bloody secret any longer.

Excavation of the Tomasica mass grave began in early September and will likely last through next week, notes CNN. As of Thursday, 231 complete bodies were recovered, along with body parts from 112 more people. However, the toll climbs every day, and sometimes by the hour.

The Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina believes the remains are victims of Bosniak and Croat ethnicity from Prijedor and its surroundings. They were killed in the summer of 1992. Identifying the remains found in the Bosnian mass grave could help bring closure to many families who still don’t know what happened to their loved ones during and after the war.

About 9,000 people are still missing, 30 percent of which were reported after the conflict ended. The war, which began with Bosnia’s secession from Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia, killed about 100,000 people and saw the worst atrocities in Europe since the Holocaust.

Tomasica and Srebrenica are just two of almost 100 mass graves discovered in northwest Bosnia since the war. The Serb-led Prijedor region, where Tomasica is located, doesn’t interfere with mass grave digs by the Missing Persons office. However, they ban any local commemorations for war crimes victims.

While the Bosnian mass grave was recently discovered, 16 Bosnian Serbs were sentenced by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague to a total of 230 years in prison for atrocities in the region. Tomasica is one of many mass graves in Prijedor, most of which haven’t been found.

[Photo by Adam Jones via Wikimedia Commons]

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