The discovery of a mass grave in the Prijedor area this week is an example of what can be achieved when agencies coordinate their efforts and pool resources, Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, said today.
This is the first mass grave located as a result of information collected by the Operational Working Group on Missing Persons. The Working Group was established in December last year to investigate the most complex cases, focusing on sites that have been prioritized by MPI field offices in the search for remaining mass graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Working Group participants include the POBiH, MPI, SIPA, the RS Centre for Investigation of War Crimes, MUP, the US Embassy, ICTY, ICMP and ICRC.
“The grave, in Hozica Kamen South of Prijedor, was found through the joint work of investigators from the BIH Prosecutor’s Office (POBIH), the Missing Persons Institute (MPI), and ICMP archaeologists, and is now being excavated by personnel from these agencies together with a court appointed pathologist and crime scene technicians,” Matthew Holliday said. “At the same time, the site has been secured by the RS police. This is a positive example of multiple agencies working together with the dedicated purpose of upholding the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
Bodies recovered from the grave will be taken to the Šejkovača identification Centre in Sanski Most for identification.
“The Operating Working Group has, in a short time, generated new information on the fate of the missing as well as potential grave locations that should be investigated and excavated,” said Ian Hanson, Deputy Director of ICMP’s Science & Technology Department. “It demonstrates the potential to find more of the missing through sensible and systematic coordination among domestic agencies, with support from the international community.”
The participants of the Working Group call upon family members, family associations and the general public to support the activities of the Working Group by providing further information on missing persons and grave locations.