Junio 8, 2007

Digging begins at suspected mass grave of Kosovo victims

Agence France-Presse
5 June 2007

RUDNICA, Serbia, June 5 (AFP) - Forensic experts began excavation work Tuesday
at a suspected Serbian mass grave thought to contain the remains of up to 500
ethnic Albanian victims of Kosovo's 1998-1999 war.

The suspected grave site, at an old quarry now partly overgrown by grass and
flooded with water, is about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from Serbia's
administrative border with Kosovo province.

The dig, expected to last five days, is being conducted by Serbian authorities
in the presence of officials from Kosovo and the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe.

Also on hand were forensic experts from the Sarajevo-based International
Commission for Missing Persons, which said it was ready to identify any remains
through DNA analysis.

"We are assisting this investigation with the participation of our forensic
experts," said ICMP spokesman Vedran Persic.

"We're also ready to eventually identify (any victims) as we have a data base
with 84,000 (DNA) samples from families whose members went missing" during the
Balkan wars of the 1990s, Persic said.

A source told AFP that the investigation was launched based on a protected
witness' account before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former

"The location was provided by the Hague tribunal. An anonymous witness said
that they saw trucks dumping the bodies," the source said on condition of

The quarry could contain the remains of between 350 and 500 bodies of ethnic
Albanians killed by Serb forces during the Kosovo conflict, according to
various local media reports.

The suspected victims were believed to have been moved across the border
for burial in a bid to cover up atrocities carried out by the forces loyal
to the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

"This is an ideal place" for concealing the remains of war crimes victims,
Kosovo official Arif Mucolli told AFP.

"For now we are only suspicious. Whether these suspicions are confirmed remains
to be seen," said Mucolli, a missing persons adviser to Kosovo Prime Minister
Agim Ceku.

Kosovo has been under United Nations stewardship since June 1999 when a NATO
assault drove out Serb forces waging a brutal crackdown on separatist ethnic
Albanian rebels and their civilian supporters.

The UN Security Council is to decide soon on a plan that would make Kosovo
independent under international supervision -- an idea backed by the West but
adamantly opposed by Serbia and its traditional ally Russia.

Ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo by a ratio of
about nine to one.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, some 2,398 people,
most of them ethnic Albanians, remain listed as missing almost eight years
since the end of the Kosovo conflict.

Posted by marga at Junio 8, 2007 9:52 PM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?