More Mass Graves Found at Srebrenica


DECOMPOSING human remains, large patches of bare soil, and tracks from excavating equipment mark two previously undisclosed mass graves of Muslim men who were massacred after Bosnian Serbs overran the UN ''safe area'' of Srebrenica in July.

The graves at Glogova - large enough to hold hundreds of bodies -are located within 15 miles of four other mass graves discovered by The Christian Science Monitor in August and October. Four Western journalists, including this reporter, reached the site on Wednesday, taking rough mountain roads to evade checkpoints manned by armed Bosnian Serbs.

Also found near the grave site was a bullet-ridden warehouse that confirms one survivor's account of hundreds of Muslim prisoners being herded there on July 13, then slaughtered in a storm of Bosnian Serb machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire.

The grim and compelling artifacts found at the Glogova site add to overwhelming evidence that thousands of Muslim men were executed after the fall of Srebrenica.

An ongoing investigation by the Monitor - involving visits to five of the six mass graves and interviews with nine survivors - indicates that 2,000 to 5,000 Muslim prisoners were executed in the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.

The Glogova graves - one a rectangle measuring 20 yards by 50 yards and the other a rough circle with a 30-yard diameter - are about three miles west of Bratunac, a Serb-controlled town five miles north of Srebrenica.

Several human leg bones were embedded in the rectangular swath. Nearby sat the crown of a human skull. A human jawbone with teeth, one of which was missing a filling, was found at the far end.

Several more human bones were embedded in the circular swath, where the odor of rotting flesh could be smelled. Also frozen into the middle of the circular patch was a shirt sleeve or trouser leg containing a bone. Several boots stuck out of the earth of both patches, and a strip of gauze bandage lay on the rectangular swath.

The far side of the rectangular swath is bounded by two ruined buildings and a mound of rubble that appears to have been bulldozed off the patch, which is well graded and totally bare of the thick grasses and scrub native to the area. Not even young shoots are growing there, indicating it has been dug up recently.

The circular swath is also bare and well-graded and lies on the other side of the track. Frozen puddles of brackish water lie midway across it, and several blasted buildings stand at its northern end. Both patches are scored with the kind of thin, shallow perpendicular furrows made by the tangs on a backhoe bucket.

Glogova was a Muslim hamlet devastated by Bosnian Serb ethnic cleansing in May 1992. US aerial surveillance on July 27 photographed a large area of newly turned earth in the hamlet that US intelligence officials suspected was a possible mass grave. They dubbed the site ''Tatar.''

On Oct 20, United States aerial surveillance photographed a backhoe digging at the site, a US intelligence source says. The source says the backhoe was moving material to a location about 100 yards to the east. Two days later, the backhoe was gone.

US officials concluded that the Bosnian Serbs might have been trying to hide evidence. The freshness of the digging indicates the graves were tampered with, but the effort was either botched or frost and rain exposed bones that were sitting just below the surface.

The Monitor checked two other nearby graves in the village of Nova Kasaba that had been visited in August. The presence of several human leg bones, a booted foot sticking from one, and the growth of grass shoots on both indicates that neither has been tampered with.

Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic have been indicted by the UN War Crimes Tribunal on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in connection with the executions. Both deny the allegations. But survivors saw General Mladic at three execution sites.

Tribunal investigators are anxious to get into the rugged region around Srebrenica to inspect suspected mass grave sites before they are tampered with. The Tribunal's chief prosecutor, Richard Goldstone, on Jan. 16 wrote to US Adm. Leighton Smith, the commander of US-led NATO troops, seeking ''substantial technical assistance'' for tribunal officials who want to visit a suspected mass grave in northwestern Bosnia, a NATO source says.

''This discovery could be the answer to another question about Srebrenica,'' a Western investigator says. ''This could be an important part of the jigsaw puzzle.''

Another killing field

After overruning Srebrenica in mid-July, the Bosnian Serbs expelled its 40,000 residents.Srebrenica's 10,000 men tried to escape through 30 miles of Serb territory to Muslim-held central Bosnia. An estimated 5,000 men made it.

The survivor of the warehouse massacre, Hakija Husejnovic, recounted to the Monitor in an interview in September in Tuzla how he was among a group of 2,000 men who surrendered after the Bosnian Serbs ambushed the column.

Mr. Husejnovic says that Mladic addressed the prisoners: ''The sheep cannot go out of the pasture until the doors are opened. We evacuated your families. You are all going to be evacuated yourselves in one or two days. ''

After Mladic departed, the prisoners were lined up four abreast and marched to a warehouse in the nearby village of Kravica, two miles from the Glogova graves.

''As soon as we got to the warehouse,'' the graying father of four says, ''we sat down, and they started to shoot.'' Screams filled the warehouse.

The shooting lasted for two or three hours and ended as night fell. He pulled two bodies on top of his own and hid under them in a pool of blood for 24 hours.

At 7 a.m. the following day, Serbs came into the building looking for survivors, and hauled out the wounded. Husejnovic says he then heard screams and shooting.

At about 10 a.m., a bulldozer rammed through a warehouse wall and began loading bodies onto trucks that drove in the direction of Glogova. The operation lasted until dark, when Husejnovic escaped.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to More Mass Graves Found at Srebrenica
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today