Thursday, 11 July 2013

Burials mark Srebrenica anniversary

Bosnia will bury 409 victims of the Srebrenica massacre, including a newborn baby, on Thursday, the 18th anniversary of Europe's worst post-war atrocity in which Bosnian Serb forces slaughtered some 8000 Muslims.

Tens of thousands of people were expected to attend a mass funeral of the victims whose remains were found in mass graves in the eastern Bosnian Srebrenica region and only identified almost two decades after the 1995 mass killing.

On the same day, the UN Yugoslav war crimes court was to rule on an appeal of the decision to drop a charge of genocide against Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, who faces other counts including masterminding the Srebrenica massacre.

"This year we are going to bury the youngest victim of the genocide, the Muhic family's baby" whose remains were exhumed from a mass grave in 2012, said Kenan Karavdic, a government official who is in charge of the burial ceremony.

The baby, who died shortly after her birth in July 1995 at the UN base in Potocari, near Srebrenica, "will be buried next to the grave of her father Hajrudin, killed in a massacre," Karavcic told AFP.

Ahead of the funeral services, columns of simple wooden coffins, covered with green cloth, were aligned in a vast hall as relatives were searching for their loved ones.

At the cemetery in the memorial centre in Potocari, amid rows of white marble columns, were freshly dug graves with green wooden signs where the coffins were to be laid.

Srebrenica was a UN-protected Muslim enclave until July 11, 1995, when it was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces.

The troops brushed aside lightly armed Dutch UN peacekeepers in the "safe area" where thousands of Muslims from surrounding villages had gathered for protection.

They loaded thousands of men and boys on to trucks, executed them and then threw their bodies into mass graves.

The remains of 5657 victims, identified through DNA tests, have already been buried in the memorial centre in Potocari since the process started a decade ago.

Their remains - often only a handful of bones -- were found in more than 300 mass graves in the area, said Amor Masovic, head of the Bosnia's Institute for Missing Persons.

But many victims remain unidentified and more were yet to be found.

Thursday 11 July 2013


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