More mass graves in Bosnia; Belgrade faces deadline on Mladic

A forensic team working in the mass graves of Bosnia announced it had found the remains of 227 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre Nov. 11. Murat Hurtic, the lead excavator, said the exhumation at the village of Snagovo, 30 miles north of Srebrenica, had discovered "147 incomplete and 80 complete bodies."

The site is the second mass grave to be found in the village. Around 100 bodies were found at the first site.

Evidence presented to the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia suggests that many of the dead were exhumed in the fall of 1995 and moved to smaller, secondary graves such as those at Snagovo in order to hide the extent of the massacre.

The Bosnian state prosecutor's office said last month it would handle as a priority a list, identified by a Bosnian Serb commission, of more than 17,000 participants in the Srebrenica massacre. Srebrenica was three-quarters Muslim before the war. It is now majority Serb.

With the approaching winter, the Snagovo exhumation will be the last this year. Since the war ended, forensic teams have exhumed 16,500 bodies from more than 300 mass graves in Bosnia. Most secondary mass graves contain only parts of bodies, indicating excavation from primary sites by bulldozer and other heavy machinery. The remains are identified by taking DNA samples and matching them to the relatives of the missing.

An estimated 260,000 people were killed and 1.8 million driven from their homes in the 1992-95 war. It ended with the US-brokered Dayton Accords, giving the Serbs half the country as a self-governing zone and turning Bosnia into an international protectorate.

Leaders of the main eight governing and opposition parties in Bosnia are now in Brussels to work out differences over a European-backed, US-brokered constitution that would give Bosnia a non-ethnic parliamentary democracy and central government for the first time since the end of the war. (Guardian, Nov. 11)

The Bosnian state prosecutor's office said last month it would handle as a priority a list, identified by a Bosnian Serb commission, of more than 17,000 participants in the Srebrenica massacre. (Guardian, Oct. 6)

The Hague tribunal has meanwhile turned up the pressure on Serbia, telling Belgrade to deliver Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic by the end of this year or face "excommunication" from the international community, Defense Minister Zoran Stankovic said.

The seven-week deadline was issued on a visit to Belgrade by UN war crimes tribunal president Theodor Meron. It comes as Serbia faces talks that could lead to the loss of its Albanian-dominated province of Kosovo, which has been under UN control for the past six years. (Reuters, Nov. 11)

Stankovic, appointed last month, says he developed a "special relationship" with Gen. Mladic after carrying out an autopsy on his daughter when she killed herself in 1994. (BBC, Oct. 22)

See our last post on Bosnia, which (p