10 May 2006: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the Government of Croatia have confirmed a further 33 DNA matches for persons missing as a result of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990’s. The latest results were announced at a press conference in Sarajevo today by ICMP Chief of Staff Kathryne Bomberger and Croatian Assistant Minister for Family, Veteran’s Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity Colonel Ivan Grujić.The Joint Project on DNA-led Identifications was agreed between ICMP and the Croatian Ministry of Family, Veteran’s Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity in November 2004 in order to resolve outstanding cases of missing persons in the region.
“We are very pleased to be able to announce this progress, which will help to bring resolution to more families and we congratulate the Government of Croatia for helping to accelerate the process,” said Kathryne Bomberger at the press conference. “We know that for the families of the missing, the process could always be faster, but this Joint Project is having a significant impact,” she added.
Twenty-nine matches between blood samples collected by ICMP and bone samples analyzed in labs in Croatia were generated in Croatian labs and confirmed by ICMP. Four matches were generated by ICMP and confirmed by the Croatian authorities.
“This is an important project that will develop further in the future as we have new exhumations coming up;” said Colonel Grujić, “the Joint Project will continue to speed up the process of resolving missing persons cases.”
The first 52 DNA matches under the Joint Project were announced in September 2005; the latest results brings the total number of DNA matches under the Joint Project to 85. The Joint Project has consisted of two phases, the first of which was a joint campaign to collect blood samples from families of persons with missing relatives. This was successfully completed in November 2004, with an additional 756 blood samples collected.
The second part of the Joint Project began in June 2005, with ICMP and the Ministry exchanging blinded DNA profiles so that matches could be found between all blood samples that have been collected by either ICMP or the Ministry and all bone samples that have been analyzed by either ICMP or the Ministry and the Croatian labs.
For a number of additional cases, further testing is required and ICMP and the Croatian Government have agreed to conduct some additional targeted blood sample collection from family members of the missing.
To ensure compatibility between the Ministry and ICMP systems, ICMP provided the Ministry with its DNA matching software.