Thousands of Muslim Bosnians commemorate 1995 Srebrenica massacre

 

Belgrade

Thousands of Muslim Bosnians commemorated the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in the city today during an annual ceremony that carried special significance this year, with the trial of former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic - allegedly responsible for Europe's worst atrocity since World War II – finally under way in The Hague.

The remains of 520 newly identified victims of the massacre were buried during a commemoration ceremony at the memorial centre in the nearby town of Potocari. Ambulances were standing by to help those among the tens of thousands for whom the event became too much.

Among the sea of simple green coffins waiting to be buried, Rabija Hrustanovic found the remains of her husband and brother: "I want to lay down next to them and stay here forever," she said before breaking into tears, the Associated Press reported.

An estimated 8,000 Muslim boys and men were killed in Srebrenica 17 years ago in a massacre allegedly orchestrated by Mladic. After years on the run, he and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic face genocide charges in The Hague for their alleged involvement. They are also charged with other crimes committed during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia that left 100,000 dead. Both deny all charges.

The massacre is perhaps the defining symbol of the Bosnian Serb ethnic cleansing campaign that took place during the war. Srebrenica was a supposedly UN-protected enclave. But on July of 1995, Serbian troops led by Mladic captured the Muslim town and separated men from women. UN Dutch troops stationed there failed to intervene as Serbian troops executed their victims in just a few days.

So far, some 5,000 Srebrenica victims have been laid to rest at the memorial centre, but newly identified victims are buried every year. 

Jasmin Agovic, from the International Commission on Missing Persons, told The Independent that locating and identifying Srebrenica victims was particularly challenging as initial mass grave sites containing the remains were dug up and buried in several secondary sites throughout Eastern Bosnia in order to conceal evidence.

“In many cases, body parts of one individual have been found in several different mass graves,” he explained, adding that families were reluctant to commit to the identification procedure until complete remains had been found.

The commission collected blood samples from relatives of more than 7,500 reported victims and has so far identified over 6,500. “We’re still expecting to find more bodies,” Mr Agovic added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory