Main Menu Travel Journal
Briefing War Maps World Links

Is my son buried there? Bodies exhumed at Jajce
A Bosnian Croat soldier guards the exhumed bodies laying by the mass-grave outside Jajce, a little town in central Bosnia, 130 kilometers (70 miles) west of Sarajevo. (Map) Coroners wearing rubber gloves and dressed in pale blue hospital coats dug into the ground with picks and shovels, then dusted mud and dirt off the remains before placing them in bags. Croat soldiers in camouflage stood by. Local officials said nine people, all Bosnian Croats, were riding in a truck that was struck by a Serb shell as Serb forces closed in on the town in 1992. It was not known whether the Croats were killed by the shell or were executed by Serbs who happened upon the disabled truck.

With that, the real work of putting Bosnia back together had begun.

Teams of forensic experts and military officials have fanned out across Bosnia. The grisly task of exhuming quickly-dug, often hidden graves was not supposed to begin until the Bosnian spring thaw, but weather and angry Muslim women accelerated the timetable. At Jajce, late-winter flooding started the process, unearthing 46 bodies earlier this week. A week of sometimes violent protests by Muslim widows in Tuzla brought home the message: Bosnia would never find peace until the nagging questions are answered: "Is my son buried there? What has become of my missing husband?"

As investigators dig into the Bosnian soil, they begin to uncover the remains of a massacre. They find the corpses of three Bosnian Croat soldiers believed to have been killed in a 1992 battle. It was news one man dreaded: his only son was found among the dead. "Some people told me he was taken to a hospital in Banja Luka. I knew it wasn't true, but you have to hope," he told CNN. "Now there is no hope anymore." Forensic pathologist Dr. Simun Andjelinovic said it will be difficult to identify all the bodies. "But from the point of view of the families and humanitarian aid, it's very important to just identify one body," he says. "If you're looking for someone, for you, it's very important that you can say, my son is dead."

Manfred Nowak, the top missing persons expert for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, looked on as the team of coroners, soldiers and workmen uncovered five sets of remains near Jajce. Officials said up to nine people could be buried there. Nowak today visited a coal mine in the northern town of Ljubija, where bodies of executed Muslims and Croats reportedly are buried. He said land mines placed in the pit may hinder attempts to search for the bodies.

Not all the missing are dead. Serb prisoners
discovered in Bosnian jail and cattle barn

The Red Cross found 88 unregistered Serb prisoners in a Bosnian jail on Friday, a discovery likely to embarrass the Muslim-led government on the eve of Secretary of State Warren Christopher's visit. On Saturday, Christopher will visit the main U.S. base at Tuzla, the city where the prisoners were found. Laurent Fellay, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Tuzla, told Reuterss he expected the remaining Serb inmates to be released along with other POWs from the Bosnian war, but gave no timetable. The Bosnian government had previously refused to allow ICRC monitors into its prison in Tuzla. A Bosnian army press officer said there was no official information about the 88, adding: "If the official line is that there are no prisoners, then there are no prisoners." Bosnian Serbs also released 13 Muslim men and a woman Friday from cattle stalls that served as a prison in the village of Mackovac east of Tuzla, and expelled them across the former front line, a Reuters photographer said.

Washington has been annoyed by footdragging on POW releases—which were supposed to have taken place by Jan. 19 under the terms of the Dayton Peace Accord. It warned that all must be freed before Christopher's trip, or postwar aid could be withheld.

Berserkistan is the world news service of
Pacific Interactive Media Corp.
EMail Berserkistan
©1995-1996, All Rights Reserved