Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Bodies of Muslims Found in Bosnian Grave

By Samir Krilic

Sarajevo,Bosnia-Herzegovina(Associated Press-July 23,2004)-Forensics experts unearthed the bodies of 51 Bosnian Muslims from a mass grave Friday believed to contain the remains of up to 300 people killed during the 1992-95 war.

The Bosnian Muslim Commission for the Search for Missing Persons found the bodies in the mass grave in Bratunac, about 55 miles northeast of Sarajevo, after nine days of exhumations, prosecutor Fatima Hadzibegovic said.

The remains were to be taken to a lab for DNA analysis in an attempt to identify them. The site is a so-called secondary grave, where bodies initially buried elsewhere were dumped.

U.N. and local forensics experts so far have exhumed 16,500 bodies from more than 300 mass graves found since the end of the Bosnian war, in which about 250,000 people were killed and another 1.8 million driven from their homes.

More than 20,000 people remain missing and are presumed dead.

Also on Friday, the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia detained a retired Bosnian Serb officer in the northeastern town of Bijeljina.

Rajko Banduka, a wartime secretary to Gen. Ratko Mladic - a top fugitive sought by the U.N. war crimes tribunal - was detained "on the suspicion that he has been engaged in activities contrary to the Dayton agreement," the NATO statement said.

The Dayton, Ohio, peace accords ended the war in 1995.

Banduka was transferred to a secure location for further questioning, and his home was searched "for evidence of illegal activities affecting a safe and secure environment" in Bosnia, the statement said. It did not elaborate.

Mladic and Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic were indicted together for their roles in atrocities that included the July 1995 Serb massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, the worst slaughter of civilians in Europe since World War II.

Both have been on the run since their indictments for genocide and crimes against humanity.
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