Berserkistan Navigator Bodies of Some 40
Muslims Found Piled
Together at Cerska

By Mark Heinrich

Forensics Experts at Cerska CERSKA, Bosnia, July 10 (Reuters) - U.N. war crimes investigators excavating a mass grave on Wednesday exposed the contorted remains of more than 40 people believed to be Bosnian Muslims that Serb forces executed near Srebrenica a year ago. The International Criminal Tribunal on former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is trying determine the full extent of Europe's worst war atrocity since 1945 and sent a team into Serb-held eastern Bosnia last weekend to start digging up suspected mass graves.

"We're up to beyond 40 bodies. Everyone I have seen is an adult. We see boots, sweaters, hands, feet. We've seen no (military) uniforms (on the bodies)," team leader William Haglund said at the close of the fourth day as he stood by a partly excavated forest embankment. "We have uncovered one half of the 30-metre (yard) area we are interested in and we know there are bodies in the other half," he said, gesturing towards a slope also littered with unearthed skulls and torsos swaddled in clothing.

"The bodies are akimbo, jumbled up, some on top of each other, as if they had rolled down the slope," added Haglund, a U.S. forensic anthropologist whose group, Physicians for Human Rights, contributed most of the team's 15 experts. He said investigators had found indications of the cause of death but he would not elaborate. Asked if some skulls had bullet holes in them, Haglund replied: "It's possible." Many spent bullet casings were found earlier across a dirt road skirting the embankment, suggesting the victims may have been machinegunned and then fell over haphazardly.

Haglund said investigators had found no military uniforms on the bodies discovered so far In one case, a boot attached to a skeletal calf bone protruded only centimetres (inches) below the road edge with the rest of the body still covered in packed earth below. Haglund said some of the craniums were fragmented and laboratory analysis was needed to identify the exact nature of the damage. "(The) bodies are basically skeletalised," he added.

About a dozen sites in eastern Bosnia may contain evidence of the worst wartime slaughter in Europe since the Nazi Holocaust. The killings occurred when Serb forces overran Srebrenica, a so-called U.N. "safe haven," exactly one year ago.

U.N. war crimes prosecutors say at least 3,000 unarmed Muslim males and possibly as many as 8,000 were shot or stabbed to death after cature or mown down in ambushes as they fled over wooded hills towards Bosnian Government territory. Investigators pinpointed suspected mass graves with the help of survivors' testimony and satellite and spy plane photography which the United States handed to the U.N. Security Council.

The Cerska exhumation, on a forest embankment off a dirt road about 35 km (22 miles) west of Srebrenica, was expected to last several more days. The bodies unearthed are to be taken in refrigerated containers to a morgue in Bosnian government territory for full forensic examination. The stench of putrifying human remains hung in the air at the forest site. Black plastic sheeting was lowered over exposed bodies to prevent the air from aceleratinging the degradation process, before the remains were packed into containers.

The ICTY investigators' task is to corroborate testimony of execution survivors given to The Hague Tribunal. The ICTY has indicted the Bosnian Serbs' army chief General Ratko Mladic and their political leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide and crimes against humanity over an alleged campaign to wipe out Bosnia's Muslim community in the 1992-95 war. Prosecutors say that campaign reached its bloody climax at Srebrenica, a Bosnian government enclave for much of the conflict which left the country split into "ethnically cleansed" Serb and Croat-Muslim entities.

To learn more...
Berserkistan, July 10 · Republika Srpska Forces Finns to Abandon Mass Grave Probe
Berserkistan, July 9 · More Bodies Exhumed at Cerska Grave Site
Berserkistan, July 8 · Cerska Grave Site Yields First Corpse
Berserkistan, July 7 · Excavation Begins at Srebrenica Mass Grave
Berserkistan, July 3 · Mladic Promised Safety to Srebrenica Muslims
Berserkistan, June 8 · Srebrenica Victim Graves Probed at Brnica
Berserkistan, June 5 · Mass Grave at Nova Kasaba May Hold 2700 Srebrenica Victims
Berserkistan, May 29 · Documentary Claims Serbia Provided Srebrenica Arms
Berserkistan, Massacre Hill Jim Bartlett in Bosnia's Killing Fields
Berserkistan, Ghosts in the Woods Team Berserkistan Investigates a Srebrenica Massacre Site
Serbs Massacre Muslims in "Safe Area" of Srebrenica
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia United Nations
Coalition for International Justice
Reports concerning human rights abuses in Bosnia Intac Access
Major War Criminals/Suspects CalTech's Bosnia Site
Reports on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia CalTech's Bosnia Site

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