Bosnia and Herzegovina

274 bodies said found at Bosnia mass grave

By Samir Arnaut

GLUMINA, Bosnia, Oct 11 (Reuters) - A total of 274 bodies of Moslem victims of Bosnia's 1992-1995 war have been exhumed from the biggest mass grave yet discovered in the Balkan country, a human rights activist said on Sunday.

Lejla Spahic, who works for U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights and who took part in the work at the site in eastern Bosnia, said the bodies had been transported to the northeastern town of Tuzla for identification.

She told Reuters that the work at the mass grave by the village of Glumina near the Yugoslav border was completed after six days.

Members of the expert team headed by the commission for missing persons of Bosnia's Moslem-Croat federation -- one of Bosnia's two post-war entities -- had left the area.

Her information could not immediately be confirmed by the commission itself.

Emin Halicevic, Tuzla prosecutor, earlier told reporters that around 250 bodies had been found by Sunday afternoon and that the grave might hold maybe five or 10 more bodies.

The victims are believed to be from nearby villages and from the town of Zvornik -- an area where Bosnian Serb forces early in the 43-month war pursued a brutal campaign of "ethnic cleansing", expelling or killing Moslems living there.

Amor Masovic, head of the missing persons commission, said some victims were carrying handcuffs, indicating that they had been detained and then executed.

Judging by the victims' clothes, they seemed to have been civilians, he said. But he could not give details until autopsies had been carried out.

He said one of those found had carried an identification document showing that he was 17 years old in 1992, when the killings probably took place.

This young victim came from the nearby village of Djevanje, situated at Bosnia's border with Yugoslavia and populated mainly by Slav Moslems before the war.

Glumina and other villages in the area, part of Bosnia's post-war Serb republic, are now populated almost entirely by Serbs, some of them refugees from Sarajevo or other federation areas dominated by Moslems.

Masovic earlier said he believed there were other smaller graves nearby and that his team would start work there soon. He said there were still 1,500 persons from the Zvornik area reported missing.

The newly found mass grave, located a few hundred metres (yards) outside Glumina, is 51 metres (168 feet) long and nine metres (30 feet) wide, officials said on Sunday. They had earlier estimated the length at between 70 and 80 metres (230 and 265 feet).

The bodies were buried at a depth of between 30 centimetres (11.8 inches) and two metres (8.5 feet).

Lying side by side, most of them were packed in plastic bags bearing the insignia of the JNA, the Yugoslav People's Army. Mosovic has said he believed the victims had been shot by the JNA, which backed Bosnian Serb forces in the war.

On Saturday, a senior official from the international agency overseeing Bosnia's post-war normalisation process watched the excavation work and described the killings as "murder".

The Glumina grave has yet to be investigated by the international war crimes tribunal on former Yugoslavia, whose experts have dug up a number of other mass graves in Bosnia and in nearby Croatia.

The biggest mass grave found previously, near the town of Kljuc in northwest Bosnia, contained 188 bodies, also Moslems.

More than 200,000 people were killed in Bosnia's 43-month war between Moslems, Croats and Serbs.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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