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Mass grave holds Srebrenica victims

SARAJEVO, Bosnia -- Bosnian Muslim officials say a mass grave has been found in eastern Bosnia containing over 200 victims of the Srebrenica massacre.

"This is one of the biggest findings in a single mass grave we have had so far and judging by documents we found in it these are the people from Srebrenica," exhumation team head Murat Hurtic told Reuters on Sunday.

"It is difficult to say exactly how many bodies were there but it is definitely more than 200," he added.

Hurtic, whose team was formed by the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons, said it was a "secondary grave" to which the remains had been transferred from the original burial site after Bosnia's 1992-5 war between Muslims, Serbs and Croats.

The remains were mixed up as a result of the transfer, Hurtic said.

The grave, 15 x 4 metres (50 by 13 feet) and two metres deep (6-1/2 feet), was found in Liplje, a village near the eastern town of Zvornik on the border with Yugoslavia some 40 kms (24 miles) northwest of Srebrenica.

Hurtic said the remains had been transferred soon after the 1995 Dayton peace treaty which ended the war by splitting Bosnia into a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb republic.

"They (Bosnian Serbs) transferred several 'primary graves' after the war," he said.

Several mass graves have been found in Bosnia.

Last month a mass grave containing bodies of victims of the notorious Foca prison camp was discovered in a dense forest.

Several of the 80 prisoners from the Foca prison camp whose bodies are believed to be in the grave have been found.

The sixth anniversary of the capture of the Srebrenica "U.N. safe area" in July 1995 by rampaging Bosnian Serb troops and the subsequent massacre will be commemorated in the town on Wednesday.

It is estimated that 8,000 Muslims died in the massacre.

Survivors and relatives of the victims will lay a cornerstone for a memorial centre near a compound from which U.N. Dutch troops watched as Bosnian Serb soldiers separated Muslim men and boys from women.

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his former military chief Ratko Mladic have been charged by the U.N. war crimes tribunal with orchestrating the massacre and are believed to hiding in eastern Bosnia.

Hurtic said officials of the tribunal took part in the exhumation.

Some 4,500 bodies of Srebrenica victims have been found in individual and mass graves or scattered in woods in eastern Bosnia.

Hurtic said the Liplje remains would be examined at a specialised DNA laboratory in Tuzla where DNA samples would be compared with blood of Srebrenica survivors.

The team would soon start work on another mass grave suspected of holding Srebrenica victims southeast of Zvornik, Hurtic said.

Some 20,000 Bosnians, including 17,000 Muslims, remain missing from the war.

Last month a Bosnian Serb general was charged with genocide in connection with Srebrenica.

Radislav Krstic was accused of planning and leading a week-long rampage in July 1995 in the U.N. declared "safe zone."

The indictment said Krstic was the senior commander of Serbian troops who rounded up thousands of Muslim civilians at the end of the 1992 - 1995 Bosnian war.

His indictment also stated that "Radislav Krstic planned, instigated, ordered or otherwise aided and abetted in the ... organised mass execution of thousands of captured Bosnian Muslim men."

Krstic denied all charges.

It could be months before a ruling is made. Krstic faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.






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• Bosnia genocide suspect held
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• Genocide charge for Bosnia's Plavsic
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• Bosnia mass grave found
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RELATED SITES:
• International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
• Governments on the WWW: Bosnia and Herzegovina
• Srebrenica

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