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Last Updated: Monday, 20 February 2006, 11:05 GMT
Bosnia war memorial plan halted
By Nick Hawton
BBC News, Sarajevo

Notorious "White House" at Omarska, northern Bosnia
Omarska's so-called "White House" saw some of the most horrific acts
Plans to build a memorial at the site of a notorious concentration camp of the Bosnian war have been suspended after the main sponsor pulled out.

Hundreds of Muslim and Croat prisoners were tortured and killed by Bosnian Serb guards during 1992 at the Omarska iron ore mine in northern Bosnia.

The world's largest steel firm, Mittal Steel, recently bought the complex and was ready to erect a memorial.

But it said many people in the local community were opposed to the plans.

Controversial issue

Mittal Steel said it was disappointed it had to abandon the plans for the memorial but recent developments had forced the decision.

The company, which is the largest foreign investor in Bosnia, said it had become clear that many locals opposed the plans and under the circumstances they would be suspended.

The memorial project had brought together Bosnian Serbs, Muslims and Croats in a rare example of cross-ethnic co-operation over such a controversial issue.

But in recent weeks more extreme voices on all sides have begun to oppose the plans.

Many Bosnian Serbs say there should not even be a memorial.

Many Muslims believe it should not be built until all the victims have been located and only then if the whole mine - which is currently working again - is used for the memorial site.

The Omarska iron ore mine witnessed some of the most barbaric crimes of the Bosnian war as mainly Muslim prisoners were starved, tortured and killed during the summer of 1992.

The abandonment of the memorial project is a blow to those who have been promoting the reconciliation process.

It is also a sign of the severe difficulties that foreign companies face when they try to invest in Bosnia.

See the site of the former prison camp in Omarska in Bosnia

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