War victims found in Vukovar mass grave

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The Independent Online
GENEVA (AP) - A United Nations-sponsored team has found evidence of a mass grave in Croatia with bodies of 200 victims executed by Serb troops, a UN spokeswoman said yesterday.

UN officials first found evidence of the grave, in a cornfield near a ravine in Vukovar, last year. It is feared there may be additional burial sites.

After Serb forces captured Vukovar in November 1991, there were widespread accounts that about 175 patients were taken from the hospital. Wounded male civilians and soldiers were reportedly separated from women and children and taken to the ravine where they were killed. An estimated 980 more young Croats went missing during the siege, of which 320 were supposedly shot on the spot when the city fell.

Therese Gastaut, of the UN, said yesterday cold weather had prevented doctors and forensic scientists from the Boston-based organisation Physicians for Human Rights from digging up the site. But she said initial investigations had revealed a grave of 'large dimensions' capable of containing 200 bodies. The victims were apparently executed on the spot, Ms Gastaut said.

The findings will be discussed at a meeting next week of the war crimes commission set up by the UN last year as part of efforts to punish those guilty of atrocities in former Yugoslavia.