World Bulletin/News Desk
The remains of hundreds of Bosnian victims of the 1992-95 war have finally been laid to rest after they were discovered in a mass grave.
The victims – 283 Bosnian Muslims and one Bosnian Croat – were buried on Sunday after a ceremony in Prijedor, in the northwest of the country. The corpses were uncovered at Tomasica last year.
Denisa Duratovic said she was burying ten family members. “For 22 years I’ve been searching for the bodies of my loved ones,” she said. “The mass grave in Tomasica has revealed the truth and ended our searching.
“If these things had not happened, grandfathers would be together with their grandsons, mothers with their sons and sisters with their brothers. Those who did this should be ashamed.”
Hava Tatarevic, 76, came to bury her husband and six sons. The last time she saw them was when they were being taken away by Serb troops.
“Today is more painful for me than the day I lost them,” she said. “On that day I had a hope but I don’t have it anymore today. I’m glad to have found and buried them. Now, I can go to their graves and pray for them.”
Coffins draped in green cloth lined the pitch.
"I think we will be at peace tomorrow, when all this is over," said Amela Kadiric, who came from the Netherlands to bury her father and three uncles, killed in a wave of Serb ethnic cleansing during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
Searches for the victims of the war are still continuing, with 20,000 bodies of Bosnian Muslims, or Bosniaks, having been found to date. More than 7,000 are still missing. At Tomasica 435 bodies were found.
According to the Institute for Lost People, 5,209 Bosniaks – 4,093 of them civilians – were killed in Prijedor, a Bosnian Serb stronghold, during the war.
The remains of more than 430 people have been found so far in the Tomasica grave near the town of Prijedor. The grave was deep, and the soil mostly clay, meaning there was relatively little decomposition among many of the bodies.
Witness accounts suggest around 1,000 people were tossed into the gruesome death pit but later dug up and reburied elsewhere as part of a systematic bid to conceal evidence of atrocities.
The Prijedor region was a stronghold of ultra-nationalist Serb forces who killed more than 3,000 Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats there and drove tens of thousands from their homes.
Some were tortured and killed in notorious Serb-run detention camps, while others died in their homes, crimes for which 16 Bosnian Serbs have been sentenced by a special U.N. war crimes tribunal to a total of 230 years in prison.
Valentin Inzko, the EU High representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina told relatives that all evidence relating to war crimes in Prijedor had been handed to prosecutors.
Hossein Kavazovic , the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, led prayers.
The coffin of the only non-Muslim victim, Croat Ante Dolic, was taken by his family after standing with others for a minute’s silence.
After the ceremony the victims were buried in their home villages around Prijedor.
Samir Karupovic, who now lives with his mother in Croatia, was just 17 months old when his father Redzep was killed in July 1992 by Bosnian Serb forces along with 1,846 others in the space of three days in the Prijedor region. Whole families vanished.
On Sunday, Karupovic sat silently gazing at his father's picture, his arms draped over the coffin that housed his remains.
In Biscani village alone, at least 218 people were killed in a day, among them 44 members of the Hegic family, officials said. Twenty-one of them were found in the Tomasica mass grave last year and buried on Sunday.
Among them were five sons and the husband of Emina Hegic, now 83 and living in the United States, whose family decided not to tell her about the exhumations and ceremonies on Sunday for fear of her reaction.
Suad Tatarevic buried six brothers and his father along with five other relatives found in the grave.
"We have lived in hope for 22 years, and now have to face that they are gone," Tatarevic said.
"At least, we'll be able to visit their graves. This is our land, we were born here, here we'll be buried."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Temmuz 2014, 18:03