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Kosovo and Croatia Exhumations

Tribunal Update No. 175, Last Week in The Hague (8-13 May, 2000)

Risley said the new morgue would act as a central facility for bodies exhumed anywhere in Kosovo and could cater for four investigative teams simultaneously. Forensic teams from Canada and Sweden would shortly join the teams from The Hague and Britain already at work in Kosovo.

"We expect to have as many as seven to ten different foreign forensics teams working in Kosovo through the summer," Risley said. The schedule facing the teams is ambitious, however, with over 300 grave sites to examine.

Risley said investigators were also continuing to collect eye-witness statements and evidence to add to the case against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his cabinet colleagues, accused of crimes against Kosovar Albanians. Teams were also investigating possible crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998 and 1999, Risley added. Although Belgrade's refusal to grant visas to Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte and her staff was hampering this work by preventing investigators interviewing Serbian victims now resident in Yugoslavia.

Risley contrasted Belgrade's intransigence with the situation in Croatia where the new government has afforded the Tribunal "unprecedented opportunities to continue our investigations".

Over the last two weeks, teams have completed exhumations at Gospic in southern Croatia. The victims, thought to be of Serbian origin, have been moved to a morgue in Zagreb where efforts will be made to identify the bodies and determine the cause of death.

Risley said investigators were also working elsewhere in Croatia on crimes committed against Croats and by Croatian forces against Serbian citizens.

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