Bosnian experts find 86 skulls at scene of 90s war massacre

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 22, 2017 11:26 AM

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Forensic experts have found 86 skulls in a mass grave near the scene of a massacre of Bosnian Muslims and Croats by Serb forces early in the 1992-95 war, officials said on Friday.

The skulls and more than 50 other body parts were found covered with rocks in a remote spot near a ravine in central Bosnia, the country's Missing Persons Institute said.

Experts began searching on Sept 7, hours after the Bosnian war crimes court ordered the exhumations at Mount Vlasic. At the time, the teams said they were only expecting to find the remains of around 60 people.

On Aug. 21, 1992, Bosnian Serbs told prisoners from detention camps for non-Serbs near the town of Prijedor that they would be released in a prisoner exchange.

But instead they drove them away by bus, lined them up by the edge of a ravine and shot them.

Only a dozen survived what has become known as the Koricani Cliffs massacre, by tumbling or jumping down the steep ravine. The 1992-95 war claimed 100,000 lives.

The killings were part of a wave of ethnic cleansing by Bosnian Serb forces who were trying to create a Serb statelet by removing Bosniaks - Bosnian Muslims - and Croats from the area.

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Forensic experts have already identified 117 victims of the massacre in several other mass grave sites.

"We hope that the search for the victims of this massacre has completed today," said Lejla Cengic from the Missing Persons Institute.

Eleven Bosnian Serb ex-policemen were convicted for the ravine killings, including Darko Mrdja who was jailed for 17 years by the Hague-based U.N. war crimes court. The remainder were convicted by the Bosnian war crimes court.

(Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Andrew Heavens)