Kurtalici exhumation video
Bosnian mass grave found in riverbed
December 5, 2000
Web posted at: 5:04 PM EST (2204 GMT)
KURTALICI, Bosnia — A mass grave containing the bodies of at least 30 people, believed to be Muslims, has been discovered in an eastern Bosnian riverbed.
The victims are believed to have been killed by Serb separatists in 1992, a forensic expert said. Up to 40 bodies could be in the grave in the Drina river, near Visegrad.
Amor Masovic, head of the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons, told the Reuters Television news agency: “I can say for sure that there are at least 30 bodies here and doctors tell me that there could be as many as 40.”
Masovic said the grave was found only because the water level in the Drina had fallen five to six metres (16 to 19 feet) to rare lows and receded 20 metres (65 feet) along both banks.
“The water level was low in 1992 and they thought that this grave would never be found,” he said, referring to the executioners.
The commission has so far exhumed the remains of some 200 Muslims buried in the Visegrad area but it is looking for another 1,100.
More than 6,000 bodies from about 180 mass graves and 2,000 single graves across Bosnia have been retrieved.
But about 23,000 Bosnians remain missing from the 1992-95 war, in which killed about 200,000 people.
Clothes found with the remains indicated that all victims were civilians, Masovic said as more than a dozen forensic experts unearthed bones, skulls and clothing from the Visegrad river grave.
“We have found a lot of spent bullet cases and wire which means they were brought here, tied up, then executed,” Masovic said.
A person whose body was found several metres away from the grave might have been shot while trying to escape, he added.
Visegrad had a mixed population before the 1992-95 war but many Slav Muslim inhabitants were either expelled or killed early in the conflict by local Serb forces and the Uzice corps of the Serbian-led Yugoslav army.
Mehemed Kurtalic, a Muslim, said he stumbled upon the riverbed grave in October when he went fishing shortly after returning to the area from an eight-year exile.
“Most of these people were my relatives, neighbours and friends and I have already identified some of them. My wish is that they be buried in a dignified way,” the 36-year-old father of two said.