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Sunday, April 19, 1998 Published at 22:03 GMT 23:03 UK


Despatches

Uncovering Srebrenica's mass graves

Thousands of Muslims were buried in unmarked graves near Srebrenica

Investigators from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have started work exhuming a number of mass graves around the town of Srebrenica in north-eastern Bosnia, where thousands of Muslims were killed in 1995. The BBC's Jacky Rowland reports from Sarajevo as the prosecutor from the war crimes tribunal is due to visit Bosnia.


Tim Judah, writer on Balkan affairs, recalls the events that took place in Srebrenica (3'24")
The name of Srebrenica is almost synonymous with ethnic cleansing. When the town was captured by Serb forces towards the end of the war, the Muslim inhabitants were either expelled or slaughtered.

Almost three years later, about 7,000 Muslims from Srebrenica are still unaccounted for.


[ image: Srebrenica was the scene of some of the worst atrocities]
Srebrenica was the scene of some of the worst atrocities
The War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague has already issued a number of indictments in connection with events at Srebrenica. Amongst those accused is the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic.

The aim of the exhumations beginning on Monday is to collect evidence in support of existing or future indictments.

The forensic team consists of approximately 50 experts from a number of countries. They hope to discover how many bodies are buried in the mass graves, how they died, and whether they were civilians or soldiers.

The investigation comes at a time when the international community is stepping up its efforts to bring alleged war criminals to justice. In the past 10 days, two Bosnian Serb suspects have been captured, while a third has surrendered.

This week the prosecutor from the tribunal, Louise Arbour, is due to visit Bosnia. She is expected to call on the Bosnian Serb authorities to put pressure on war crimes suspects at large in their territory.

Her visit will also contribute to the mounting psychological campaign to isolate Dr Karadzic and make him feel threatened.



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