Monday, 20 July 2015

Colombia to begin large-scale excavation of mass grave

Colombian officials will soon begin exhumation of a mass grave that could prove to be the largest in the country's history, authorities said Friday.

The grisly work of unearthing the mass grave in Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city, will begin on July 27 and will likely take months to complete. The bodies are believed to be the result of years of fighting among right-wing paramilitaries, leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers.

Workers could discover more than 100 bodies, according to national prosecutor's office spokeswoman Caterina Heyck, though it's hard to know in advance what they will find.

She said it could be "the largest" judicial exhumation in Colombia's history. Officials received information on the mass burial site from demobilized paramilitary fighters.

The country's five-decade long civil war has left the landscape pockmarked with unmarked grave. In recent years, officials have exhumed thousands of bodies and attempted to return the remains to family members. Workers use DNA to match bodies with people reported missing.

The government has been negotiating with the guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in Havana for two and a half years to end the conflict.

Saturday 18 July 2015

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Remains of 86 Jewish Holocaust victims used for human experiments by Nazis found hidden in Strasbourg lab

The remains of 86 Jewish people sent to Nazi gas chambers in 1943 have been discovered at a forensic medicine institute in eastern France.

The bodies of the victims were brought from German holocaust camps to the then Nazi occupied city of Strasbourg in eastern France where they were used by Nazi anatomy professor August Hirt for experiments, according to news agency AFP.

Some of the bodies remain intact while others are dismembered and burnt.

It was thought that the bodies had been buried in a common grave in 1946, following the liberation of the city by Allied forces two years earlier. However, historian Raphael Toledano found that some remains were still lying undiscovered in the institute 70 years on.

Toledano, along with the director of the institute Jean-Sebastien Raul, identified many of the body parts including a jar of “skin fragments” from a gas chamber victim.

Test tubes containing intestine and stomach were also found, according to news agency reports.

The remains had been preserved by a forensic professor from Strasbourg’s medicine faculty, Camille Simonin, as part of an investigation into Hirt’s crimes.

A letter written by Simonin in 1952 gave Toledano a clue as to the location of the remains which mentioned jars containing “samples taken in the course of judicial autopsies carried out on the Jewish victims of the Struthof gas chamber“.

A statement announcing the bodies’ discovery said that labels on each piece refer to the register 107969 and “match the number tattooed at the Auschwitz camp on the forearm of Menanchem Taffel, one of the 86 victims".

Local authorities are reportedly planning to return the newly discovered remains to the Jewish community of Strasbourg where they will be buried at the cemetery of Cronenbourg.

Hirt was an SS-captain who served as a chairman at the Reich University in Strasbourg during World War II. During the war he worked together with other Nazi experimenters to collect human corpses from among inmates at Auschwitz in preparation for an anthropological display at the university.

Hirt killed himself in 1945 before he could be tried for war crimes.

Monday 20 July 2015

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