Reproduced below is one of the many reports of mass grave discoveries issued by either the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) or, as in this case, the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons MCMP (which seem for all practical purposes to have been one and the same thing).
As the Bosnian war ended in 1995, this discovery was some 16 years after the events. Also worth noting is that the grave was kept secret for a further year after it was found “to ensure the site was not disturbed before excavations began”.
The theory that a huge cover up operation was mounted by the Bosnian Serbs in late 1995 did not even begin to emerge until 1998. This highly unlikely theory was accepted by the ICTY simply on the basis in of a report from its own investigation team led by Jean Rene Ruez, a former French policeman, and Dean Paul Manning, a former Australian policeman. Neither had extensive scene-of-crime experience – and certainly no expertise in complex humanitarian investigations. No detailed evidence was provided by them to support their assessment; it is beyond belief that any operation to excavate, move and re-bury more than 500 tons of human remains could possibly have been carried out undetected. Indeed, during 1996 and 1997 numerous US politicians and officials stressed that they had seen no evidence of interference with grave sites.
‘Biggest ever’ mass grave excavated | World news | guardian.co.uk 13/06/2011 16:02
‘Biggest ever’ mass grave excavated
guardian.co.uk, Monday 28 July 2003 16.26 BST
Forensic experts today began excavating what they believe to be the largest mass grave yet found in Bosnia.
The grave is thought to contain the remains of hundreds of Muslim civilians killed by Serb forces during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including some who died in the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica.
“This is most likely the biggest mass grave ever found in Bosnia and it will take us more than a month to uncover all the bodies,” Murat Hurtic, the head of the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons for the region of Tuzla, told The Associated Press.
The site of the mass grave, which is about the size of a tennis court, is near the eastern Bosnian village of Memici, about 50 miles north-east of Sarajevo.
It was detected a year ago after reports from wartime witnesses who saw convoys of trucks heading there, loaded with the remains of bodies.
The commission kept its finding secret for a year and concealed witness identities, to ensure the site was not disturbed before excavations began.
Hundreds of Bosnian Muslims were executed when Serb forces occupied the area close to the Serbian border at the start of the war. Their bodies were initially buried together at the local Muslim cemetery in nearby Zvornik.
Later, in 1995, some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were summarily executed after Serbian troops overran the nearby UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995. That massacre is considered to be the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
According to samples taken from the soil, the Memici mass grave is believed to contain victims from that massacre, as well as those killed at the beginning of the war and first buried in Zvornik.
The tactic of removing and reburying victims was used by the Bosnian Serbs to hide evidence of massacres from the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, which is prosecuting suspected perpetrators of atrocities during the Balkan wars. UN investigators were present at the site today.
Skeletons in such graves are often crushed and mixed up during reburial, which makes identification difficult. Experts must first attempt to match bones before using a sophisticated DNA identification method to give each body a name.
DNA from bone marrow is matched with blood samples taken from families of missing persons. This is the only reliable way to identify victims more than a decade after their death.
More than 250,000 people died during the Bosnian war, involving the country’s Serbs, Croats and Muslims, and 20,000 people are missing. The bodies of many of the missing are being found in mass graves throughout the country. Some 90 percent of them are Bosnian Muslims.
Meanwhile, the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was suspended again today because he is ill, a judge told the UN court in The Hague.
“A report has reached us … of the illness of the accused in the detention unit. A doctor is apparently on his way to see him …,” presiding judge Richard May said, adding that doctors would submit a medical report later.
Mr Milosevic’s trial for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo has been repeatedly interrupted by the accused’s bouts of ill health since it began in February 2002.