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BosNet Digest V5 #21 / Jan. 13, 1996

From: ErkocevicM@AOL.COM

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


  • [01] Yet another news confirming that the implementation of the Federation agreement between the Bosnians and Bosnian Croats depends solely on Tudjman and the Zagreb Government.

  • [02] U.S. intelligence agencies will begin watching a mine in northwest Bosnia where U.S. newspapers reported Serbs may be trying to hide bodies exhumed from mass graves...

  • [03] ... While the British NATO forces, only a mile or two from the scene of crime, refuse to protect the mass graves at least for some time. Giving time to the Serbs to eliminate traces of genocide?

  • [04] As a follow-up to the New York Times article about the mass graves aroundLjubija, here is the excerpt on those mass graves from Annex X to the Commission of Experts' Final Report. The existence and importance of those mass graves has been known for years.

  • [05] Gravesites Near Sanski Most Border - Stara Rijeka & Bri_evo

  • [06] FOOTNOTES

  • [01] Yet another news confirming that the implementation ...

    MOSTAR, Bosnia-Herzegovina - U.S. presidential troubleshooter Robert Gallucci made a surprise visit to the flashpoint city of Mostar Friday in bid to get the Croatian and Bosnian governments to halt ethnic violence.

    Retaliatory killings between Croats and Muslims in Mostar have overshadowed the entire Bosnian peace process.

    Mostar's European Union administrator Hans Koschnick said Gallucci gave his backing to a series of appeals to Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to rein in local Croats after shootings on the city's ``confrontation line'' since New Year.

    ``He supported my position very strongly and will say so to the leaderships,'' Koschnick told reporters after a 40-minute meeting with Gallucci, who made no comment.

    Gallucci handles some of the toughest diplomatic missions for Washington, including negotiating with North Korea over its controversial nuclear program.

    An increasingly outspoken Koschnick has made his appeals to both Tudjman and the Muslim-led Bosnian government of President Alija Izetbegovic, although he has reserved his sharpest comments for Croatia.

    Koschnick has questioned Tudjman's commitment to restoring peace in Mostar and to a Muslim-Croat federation forged in 1994 after the two communities fought a war which devastated Mostar. But Tudjman promised he would do his best to calm down the situation when he met NATO Secretary General Javier Solana in Zagreb Thursday.

    German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, who has expressed similar concerns, is scheduled to visit Mostar Sunday.

    Koschnick called on local Croats to follow orders from Zagreb, which funds and backs them.

    Croatia has shown more signs of action in recent days. Defense Minister Gojko Susak, an influential local figure who comes from near Mostar, promised Thursday to help restore calm and send more Croatian police if needed. EU officials said this was a matter for discussion.

    [02] U.S. intelligence agencies will begin watching a mine ...

    WASHINGTON, Jan 11 - U.S. intelligence agencies will begin watching a mine in northwest Bosnia where U.S. newspapers reported Serbs may be trying to hide bodies exhumed from mass graves, the Defence Department said on Thursday.

    ``We will increase our intelligence collection in that area to provide the War Crimes Tribunal all the up-to-date information we can,'' spokesman Ken Bacon said.

    ``We will turn intelligence assets to that area to survey it,'' he added later. ``It was not an area we had been surveying regularly beforehand. But we will now.''

    The newspapers quoted non-Serbs at Ljubija as saying Serbs had exhumed bodies from mass graves in the area and taken them to the nearby mine, where the remains were often mangled in mining equipment, doused with chemicals and reburied under tons of debris in open pits.

    Bacon said the United States had no information as far as he knew on the mine but he warned Serbs and other factions they could not escape war crimes prosecution by trying to destroy mass grave sites.

    ``There are probably 15 to 20 mass grave sites. We believe that most of them are Serb but every party has, we believe, mass grave sites in Bosnia,'' he said. ``It should be very clear to the parties that they cannot escape legal retribution, they cannot escape the reach of the War Crimes Tribunal by trying to cover up and destroy these sites.''

    [03] ... While the British NATO forces, only a mile or two from the scene ...

    SARAJEVO - NATO said Saturday it would help investigate reports of mass graves in Bosnia if asked by international organizations, but that it was too busy with military tasks to do so immediately.

    The issue is important because of reports that the Bosnian Serbs have hidden up to 8,000 bodies in mineshafts in northwestern Bosnia. The United States also says there are mass graves near Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave in eastern Bosnia which fell to the Serbs last June.

    NATO spokesman Capt. Mark van Dyke told reporters the alliance-led peace force would help escort officials from the U.N. war crimes tribunal or other organizations to sites where mass graves have been reported, if asked by them to do so.

    But another spokesman, Brigadier Andrew Cumming, said the NATO peace force in Bosnia was currently preoccupied with making sure the former warring parties withdrew their forces from zones of separation. He declined to say when NATO might be able to offer help.

    Any delay in investigating claims of mass graves could allow the Serbs to move or destroy evidence needed by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague -- which has already indicted Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic.

    [04] As a follow-up to the New York Times article about the mass grave ...


    253. Ljubija is 10 kilometres south of Prijedor. Like Omarska and Toma_ica, Ljubija is a mining community, and served as an additional location where prisoners and villagers were taken for burial.

    254. Strip Mines: In the middle of May 1992, Serb soldiers from an unidentified unit took control of the Ljubija strip mine. Guards posts were established, the location was armed, and barbed wire was erected.[412] Because of the frequency with which witnesses to the mass burials in Prijedor were killed, the precise locations of the sites are often not provided. Accounts refer to the "Ljubija" mine, strip mine, open pit iron mine, and the like. Six locations, however, have been identified with more specificity:

    (a) Vukulja: Vukulja was a pit 12 kilometres in an unknown direction from Ljubija. Prior to May of 1992, recent ore excavations had taken place at the site. A source provided hearsay information that 150 Muslims from Kozarac and thousands of other Muslims from the Prijedor area were killed in the Vukulja and Ljubija pits in August of 1992.[413]

    (b) _ljunkara: The _ljunkara open pit was five kilometres south-west of Prijedor. Just as Muslims from Prijedor were buried in Vukulja in August, others were buried in the _ljunkara pit in May of 1992.[414]

    (c) Iskopine Pit: The Iskopine pit is located just west of the main road through Ljubija between an area marked "Ljubija Rudnik" and a small lake.[415] In late July 1992, many of the male villagers of Rizvanovici were rounded up by Serb forces. Between 117 and 155 Muslim males were taken to the village of Miska Glava, where they were held in a cafe for three days without food or water. Seven of the prisoners were disemboweled or had their throats slit, and 10 were taken away and never returned. The remaining prisoners were taken to Ljubija sports stadium, where they were beaten. Approximately 60 of the prisoners were mutilated and killed. Those who were still alive had to load the mutilated corpses onto buses. The buses drove to the Iskopine pit, parked near a bulldozer, and two or three prisoners took turns hauling the corpses to an area 20 metres from the buses. Automatic rifle fire emanated from this area and the prisoners never returned. An escapee believes they were executed by rifle fire.[416]

    (d) Open Pit Mine - Stara Cesta Road: This open pit mine is said to be two to three kilometres south of Ljubija. It is 12 metres in diameter and is six metres deep. On 1 August 1992, a pile of 20 to 25 bodies, all with multiple bullet wounds, was seen in this pit. The pit is on the east side of Stara Cesta Road and north of a dirt path, which turns off the main road to the east. A Bosnian refugee personally observed these bodies, which were covered with earth a few days later.[417]

    (e) Redak & Kru_ka Pits: Redak is an open strip mine pit three kilometres south of Ljubija, and Kru_ka is one kilometre south of Redak. Bodies were said to have been dumped in these pits after the attacks on the village of Brisevo.[418] The pits at these locations were 5 to 100 metres from the road, with dimensions of three metres by three metres by 2.5 metres. The pits were empty before hostilities began in Sanski Most, but in August of 1992, residents observed that the pits were filled with the region's yellow dirt. One person observed human bones protruding from one of the pits.[419] Another report alleged that 200 people were buried in one grave at Redak.[420]

    (f) Ljubija Mines: Other allegations generally state that Ljubija mines were used as burial sites. One prisoner from Keraterm related that his Serb guards told him that the 15 to 20 prisoners who died at the camp each day were buried at the ore mine in Ljubija, 15 kilometres west of Prijedor.[421]

    (g) Another man from the area stated that he spoke with a man who buried bodies brought by the Serbs to the strip mines. Specifically, more than 100 villagers from Hambarine were captured, taken to the strip mines, executed, and buried by an excavator.[422]

    (h) Another report states that in July 1992, bodies of killed civilians were brought on a regular basis to the Ljubija mines, where they were soaked with oil and set on fire. Afterwards, bulldozers would cover them with dirt and cobbles.[423]

    255. _urkovac: _urkovac is a village 2.5 kilometres north of Ljubija. Within the village is a hamlet called Volari_, entirely populated by gypsies. According to a refugee, 12 unidentified bodies were unloaded off a truck on the left side of the Ljubija-Miska Glava Road. Eleven Gypsies were forced to bury the victims who may have been from Rizvanovi_i.[424] As the Gypsies were digging the mass grave, a delivery truck, which was supplying food to the Serb Army, passed by and the Gypsies were fired upon, instantly killing nine of them. The witness identified the gravesites on a topographic map.[425]

    256. Tomeks Plant: A large number of bodies are reportedly buried in a mass grave near the Tomeks plant in Ljubija. No other details regarding the site were provided.[426]

    257. Ljubica Dizdarevi_ Residence: This house is situated near the west side of the intersection of Stara Cesta road and the new road 3.5 kilometres south of Ljubija. A group of 20 Muslim prisoners, some from the village of _arakovo, were transported to this site by bus and taken to a pear tree. Their hands were tied behind their backs and 10 armed guards escorted them. The prisoners were forced to dig a pit. The guards then beat and shot the prisoners and pushed them into the pit, which was then covered with dirt. The witness heard of the killing from his aunt, who was an eyewitness. During the last half of August, human hands and feet could be seen protruding from the pit.[427]

    258. Ralja_: There is a general report that 19 persons were killed and buried in five graves in Ralja_.[428] No other details regarding the site were provided.[429]

    [05] Gravesites Near Sanski Most Border - Stara Rijeka & Bri_evo

    259. Stara Rijeka is approximately three kilometres south-east of Ljubija and sits on the border with Sanski Most county. It nearly forms one village with its neighbor, Bri_evo. Because of the specificity with which graves in both villages are described, they will be discussed separately.

    260. Stara Rijeka Cemetery: On 25 July 1992, soldiers from the Bosnian Serb 6th Light Infantry Mountain Brigade, the Fifth Kozara Brigade and local mobilized Serbs converged on both Stara Rijeka and Bri_evo. All Muslim and Croat males were apprehended. During the roundups, 85 residents, including 17 women, were killed.[430] Most were slain with knives. Serbs in Stara Rijeka allowed survivors of the attack to bury the dead; those in Bri_evo did not.[431] In August of 1992, nine bodies were buried in two graves in the Stara Rijeka Croatian "Gro_ica" Cemetery.

    261. Two Bosnian refugees gave detailed descriptions of the burial sites and identified the victims.[432] The cemetery is four kilometres south of Stara Rijeka, on the east side of the highway to Stari Madjan. It is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and has only one means of ingress and egress: a small bridge which spans a two metre canal separating the cemetery from the highway. The first grave is to the left of the cemetery entrance and covers a six square metre area. Two Bosnian Croatian married couples[433] from the villages of Bri_evo and Stara Rijeka are buried there.[434]

    262. The second grave is to the right of the cemetery entrance and is four metres by 2.5 metres. Nine members of the same family,[435] who were Bosnian Croatians from Stara Rijeka, are buried there: three brothers, four sons of two of the brothers, a nephew of the brothers, and a cousin from Bri_evo.

    263. When the bodies were found, all the throats had been slit, the backs of their knees had been cut, and all body hair had been burned off. One victim's head had been scalped and his eyes were removed. One other victim had skin removed from his left elbow, and another's spine was broken. It appears from the report that the bodies were discovered by a villager, and he was granted permission to bury them.[436]

    264. In addition, there is a general, unconfirmed report that 43 people were killed in Stara Rijeka and buried in two graves.[437]

    265. Bri_evo: A 30 year-old Bosnian Croatian witness from Bri_evo[438] has provided testimony of mass grave locations, names of some victims, and details of how they were killed.[439] The first attack on Bri_evo was on 27 May 1992. By the dawn of 24 July 1992, the area was entirely encircled. On about 24 August, the area was under mortar attack. After the mortar attack, troops moved from village to village, indiscriminately seeking out and killing inhabitants.[440] Meeting little or no resistance, these forces moved through each town and forced out the remaining inhabitants.[441] Most people were hiding from the shelling in their basements, where the soldiers killed them. About 70 bodies were buried, all of which had suffered multiple bullet wounds.[442] The Sixth Krajina Brigade and members of the Fifth Kozara Brigade were reportedly responsible for these mass killings. Most of the victims were killed by the Sixth Krajina Brigade.[443] The witness also provided the names of some perpetrators.[444 ]

    266. Some of the information provided included individual graves located near mass graves.[445] These individuals also may be the victims of mass killings. All of the graves were dug by civilians from the village of Bri_evo, including the witness, except for the first grave listed later, which was dug by the victims themselves. All are over one metre deep and all are marked with a cross and surrounded by wooden fences, again with the exception of the first grave listed. Some bodies were wrapped in sheets and blankets and then buried.[446] The following is a list of those graves in the Bri_evo area.[447]

    267. In mid-August, a bus arrived from Ljubija with about 20 Muslim prisoners. They were predominantly young men (in their early twenties) from the village of _arakovo. They were removed from the bus with their hands tied with wire behind their necks and escorted by about 10 guards with assault weapons. After their hands were freed, they were forced to dig a pit. The guards beat and shot them and then pushed their bodies into the pit. Before leaving, the guards covered the bodies with dirt. During the last half of August, the witness could see hands and feet protruding from the grave.[448]

    268. The badly burned bodies of an 80 year-old man, a 55 year-old woman, and a 67 year-old man are buried near a witness' house. This grave is located in Pimaci.[449]

    269. Above a witness' house in Mlinari, six people are buried.[450]

    270. About 10 metres from the well near Marko Buzuk's house, a 65 year-old woman, a 60 year-old man and a 30 year-old man are buried.[451] In the same immediate area, about 400 metres west of Mlinari toward Groarac,[452] a grave contains four male bodies with multiple bullet wounds.[453]

    271. At the location called Jezerce (Little Lake), four people are buried.

    272. There are two graves 200 metres from the road south of Lisina, near a witness' house.[454] The two graves are about 70 metres apart.[455] An entire family of six individuals is buried there.

    273. Four women and four men were brought and killed near Ivo _uni_'s house and later buried there.[456]

    274. The graves of two 16 year-old males are located on the _uni_a Ravana road, north-west of Buzuci.[457] One boy was buried on the south side of the stream, and the other was buried on the north side. Their bodies bore identification stating that they were from Rizvanovi_i.

    275. The witness also provided detailed information on how a number of the victims listed above were killed. Many were tortured and all were beaten. Some were killed by picks, shovels, and stakes, while others were mutilated.[458]

    [06] FOOTNOTES

    412/ Declassified Document No. 94-75, US Department of State, IHRLI Doc. No. 56559. 413/ Id. 414/ Id. 415/ One account refers to the site only as the Ljubija strip mine. The other account specifies the Iskupine pit. Because of the similarity of facts relating to the incident, the accounts are discussed together here. 416/ One account by a known witness specifically mentioned the pit. Declassified Document No. 94-292, IHRLI Doc. No. 62633. The other account, of a man who escaped, does not mention burial at all. It could be that he escaped before being able to witness a burial. Declassified Document No. 94-146, IHRLI Doc. No. 56804. 417/ Declassified Document No. 94-385, US Department of State, IHRLI Doc. No. 62875. 418/ The first attack on Bri_evo was 27 May 1992. For a discussion of events in Bri_evo. 419/ Declassified Document No. 94-67, US Department of State, IHRLI Doc. No. 56538. 420/ Supplemental (7th) Submission of the Government of the United States of America to the United Nations (13 April 1993), IHRLI Doc. No. 11940. 421/ Declassified Document No. 94-250, US Department of State, IHRLI Doc. No. 57146. 422/ Croatian Information Centre, Weekly Bulletin No. 10, 11 October 1993, IHRLI Doc. No. 47019, 43734. 423/ Croatian Information Centre, Weekly Bulletin No. 2, 16 August 1993, IHRLI Doc. No. 34957. 424/ While the numbers do not correspond, these bodies may have been those of the seven men killed at Miska Glava, or the 10 who disappeared from the cafe. 425/ Croatian Information Centre, Weekly Bulletin No. 10, 11 October 1993, IHRLI Doc. No. 43727. 426/ Id. 427/ Declassified Document No. 94-385, US Department of State, IHRLI Doc. No. 62875. 428/ Raljas may be the name of a creek near Ljubija. 429/ Supplemental (7th) Submission of the Government of the United States of America to the United Nations (13 April 1993), IHRLI Doc. No. 11940. 430/ Declassified Document No. 94-67, US Department of State, IHRLI Doc. No. 56358. 431/ Croatian Information Centre, Statement of [Witness], 30 January 1993, IHRLI Doc. No. 14951. 432/ Declassified Document No. 94-50, US Department of State, IHRLI Doc. No. 56483. 433/ The identities of the victims have been redacted. 434The source also believed that the victims were killed not because of their ethnicity, but because they were wealthy residents of the community. Declassified Document No. 94-13, US Department of State, IHRLI Doc. No. 56358. 435/ Victims were identified in the source documentation, but their names are redacted here. 436/ Id. 437/ Supplemental (7th) Submission of the Government of the United States of America to the United Nations (13 April 1993), IHRLI Doc. No. 11940. 438/ All the witness' personal data is available at the Department for Collecting Documentation and Processing Data on the Liberation War. Croatian Information Centre, Statement of [Witness], 30 January 1993, IHRLI Doc. No. 14590. 439/ Most of them were killed by fire arms, but some of them were tortured before death. Croatian Information Centre, Statement of [Witness], 30 January 1993, IHRLI Doc. No. 14592. 440/ Supplemental (8th) Submission of the Government of the United States of America to the United Nations (16 June 1993), IHRLI Doc. No. 23449. 441/ Id., IHRLI Doc. No. 23449. 442/ Id., IHRLI Doc. No. 23449. 443/ Serbian Army major, Veljko Braji_, reportedly led the Brisevo operation and was later promoted to either lieutenant-colonel or colonel. Croatian Information Centre, Statement of [Witness], 30 January 1993, IHRLI Doc. No. 14593. 444/ Names of other perpetrators have been redacted from this report, but are available in the original documentation. 445/ A list of victims buried in eight individual graves in the Bri_evo area can be found in the original documentation. 446/ The above details about the grave markings and burial methods are at the Croatian Information Centre, Statement of [Witness], 30 January 1993, IHRLI Doc. No. 14597. 447/ Unless otherwise noted, information in the following sections was taken from Croatian Information Centre, Statement of [Witness], 30 January 1993, IHRLI Doc. No. 14590-14601. 448/ Supplemental (8th) Submission of the Government of the United States of America to the United Nations (16 June 1993), IHRLI Doc. No. 23449. 449/ Supplemental (8th) Submission of the Government of the United States of America to the United Nations (16 June 1993), IHRLI Doc. No. 23450. 450/ Id. 451/ According to the witness, this body had been tortured and was found in a corn field. He was found with his eyes missing, his ears cut off, the muscles on his arms severed, and his skull cracked with a lath or club. 452/ Approximately 150 metres north-west of this site, on the east side of the paved road from Dimaci to Buzuci, is the grave of an unidentified woman. Id. 453/ Id. 454/ The witness considers these two sites to be one location because they are close in proximity. 455/ Id. 456/ One of the women buried at this site was raped until she died. S.B. and I.Z. buried her 15 days after her death. There were visible signs of bites on her breasts and parts of her body were missing. It appeared that parts of her breasts had been bitten off. She was found naked in the field. 457/ Id., IHRLI Doc. No. 23451. 458/ There are many human corpses and bones in the part of the Kurevo forest between Radulovi_'s house on the one side and Babi_'s house on the other side (called Rivi_a Strana). The Muslims who attempted to escape from the area around Hambarine to Stari Majdan or Japra were killed at this spot. Their villages were destroyed and when they tried to flee, they were shot by Serbs stationed at the Lisina hill. There are many dead women, children, and men in this part of the Kurevo forest. The witness found six or seven piles of bodies, 10 or 12 bodies per pile. Some of the bodies were already so decomposed that the witness could see the bones.

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    End of bosnet-digest V5 #21 ***************************

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