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Omarska-Keraterm Trial- Prosecution wind up case with forensic evidence from mass graves

Tribunal Update 193 Last Week in The Hague (October 2-7, 2000)
By IWPR

Miroslav Kvocka, Mladjo Radic, Dragoljub Prcac, Milojica Kos and Zoran Zigic are accused of crimes at the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje camps during the summer of 1992.


Numerous prosecution witnesses have testified that fellow inmates would disappear without trace while in the camps and that a small yellow truck visited virtually every day to remove the bodies of detainees beaten to death by guards or "visitors" to the camps. Witnesses also spoke of several occasions when larger massacres were committed.


Hague investigators cooperated with the Bosnia-Herzegovina authorities in the conduct of a thorough search of the Prijedor area for traces of those killed at the three camps. Over the past two years, investigators found four mass grave sites in Kevljani, Donji Dubovik, Hrastova Glavica and Pasunac, thought to contain the bodies of Omarska detainees.


Investigator Tariq Malik, a Pakistani police officer, was responsible for the overall co-ordination and review of exhumation evidence from the sites. He spoke last week of the exhumations made at Kevljani and Donji Dubovik.


At Kevljani, a village some 5 kilometres from the detention camp at the Omarska mine-complex, Malik said his team had exhumed 73 "complete or nearly complete bodies" as well as dismembered body parts and bones. Evidence was also found, Malik said, indicating the site had been "robbed prior to the exhumations" and some bodies removed.


Forensic anthropologists estimated over 70 bodies had been removed, Malik said. His investigation concluded that at least 140 bodies had been buried at the site. Iron ore and slag samples found in the graves were consistent with samples from the Omarska camp, he said.


Fragments of clothing, identity cards and other personal belongings were found at the site, Malik said. As a result, seven people were identified who were last seen at the Omarska camp.


Pathologists trying to determine the cause of death reported 93 per cent of the bodies found at Kevljani had "genuine ante-mortem injuries - typically bone fractures or gunshot damage". The average number of bone fractures on the bodies was 11. The injuries consistent with the severe beatings described by previous prosecution witnesses.


The remains of Islam Bahonjic had as many as 20 separate fractures. Several witnesses have described to the court the repeated beatings endured by Bahonjic at the Omarska camp.


Remains exhumed from Jama Lisac, a mass grave in the village of Donji Dubovik, revealed similar findings pathologists reported. Of 50 bodies found at the site DNA analysis has so far identified only two, both former inmates at Omarska.