Bosnian Forensics Experts Search Ravine for Victims of 1990s War

Forensic experts began searching a ravine in central Bosnia on Thursday for the remains of around 60 Bosnian Muslims and Croats killed by Serb forces early in the 1992-95 war.

The search began hours after the Bosnian war crimes court ordered the exhumations at Mount Vlasic where between 160 and 220 prisoners of war were shot dead on August 21, 1992.

Bosnian Serbs told the prisoners from detention camps for non-Serbs near the town of Prijedor that they would be released in a prisoner exchange but instead 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 war claimed 100,000 lives.

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

The remote site is believed to be a secondary mass grave, meaning the bodies were removed from the execution site to this location some time later in an attempt to hide the crime, Amor Masovic, the head of a regional Commission for Missing Persons, told Reuters.

Forensic experts have already unearthed skeletal remains from two other secondary mass graves and have established the identities of 117 victims of the massacre whose bodies were mainly incomplete due to removal.

Eleven Bosnian Serb ex-policemen were convicted for the crime at Koricanske Stijene, including Dargo 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.

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