Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia-Herzegovina Excavates Key Mass Grave Sites in Herzegovina

US ambassador visit to Herzegovina sites-0374 24 June 2009: The Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia-Herzegovina (MPI) continues its key work of finding and excavating mass graves as MPI teams began work on two key sites located in south-western Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Institute’s work at the two locations demonstrated its readiness and ability to operate as the state-level institution tasked with dealing with some 17,500 missing persons across the entire territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Work has begun on an exhumation site in Batijevica, near Goranci, Mostar, and a second site outside Posusje. Based on background information provided by MPI, the sites relate to events that took place between August 1992 and the beginning of 1993. MPI Directors Milan Bogdanic, Marko Jurisic and Amor Masovic, accompanied by a delegation including members of the MPI Advisory Board, visited the area.

Since the beginning of 2008, MPI has assisted and worked on finding, exhuming or examining  more than one hundred individual and mass grave sites across the country, with the work of the Missing Persons Institute forming the effective focal centre of the search for persons missing in BiH following the 1992-1995 conflict. MPI is currently assuming increased operational responsibility as data from CEN BiH, the Central Records of Missing Persons in Bosnia-Herzegovina, begins to be transferred to it from ICMP, the International Commission on Missing Persons.

“MPI is dedicated to its mission and to the expedited resolution of the fate of missing persons,” said Milan Bogdanic, Chairman of the MPI Board of Directors. “It is also dedicated to the creation of a central database on missing persons, and this dedication is demonstrated through the everyday attendance of MPI investigators from regional and field offices at the site assessments of individual and mass graves.”

Chairman of the BiH MPI Board of Directors Milan Bogdanic“What we are seeing in front of us today in the caves and quarries of Hercegovina is the terrible continuing legacy, thirteen years on, of the conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina,” said ICMP Director-General Ms.Kathryne Bomberger, “but what we are also seeing is the ever-increasing capacity and commitment of MPI to dealing with this legacy, and to helping the country begin to put the past to bed and move towards a new stability.”

ICMP is a co-founder of MPI which was inaugurated as a state-level institution in 2005, taking  over the responsibilities, staff and budgets of the entity bodies formerly charged with these responsibilities. The work of MPI also brings closer the implementation of the Law on Missing  Persons, which helps safeguard the rights of families of the missing.

MPI Directors Milan Bogdanic, Marko Jurisic and Amor Masovic were accompanied by ICMP Director-General Ms.Kathryne Bomberger, Special Representative to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Caroline Ravaud, US Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina H.E Charles L. English and Henry Fournier, Head of Delegation for Bosnia-Herzegovina for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).