Following articles are available:
- Eye-witness account of the terrors of WAR IN CROATIA!
- FROM VUKOVAR Some pictures from the Vukovar inferno.
- LETTERS Help the Children
- Croatia: War against Vukovar medical centre
- STRADANJA DJECE U VUKOVARU
- Evidence of Mass Grave Found Near Croatian Town
- UN TO DIG UP MASS GRAVE NEAR VUKOVAR
- MISSION TO HELP VICTIMS OF WAR
- Serbs Blamed for Mass Croatian Grave
- Forensic investigation of alleged war crime near Vukovar
- COMMISSION OF EXPERTS PREVENTED FROM INVESTIGATING MASS GRAVE AT OVCARA
- EXCAVATION OF MASS GRAVE AT OVCARA DELAYED BY LOCAL SERB AUTHORITIES
Eye-witness account of the terrors of WAR IN CROATIA!
At this moment (Oct. 26) there is an artillery attack on the
centre of our city. What it is like on the outskirts of the city
I dare not imagine. Fighting is heavy and the dead bodies lay in
the streets for days. The infrastructure of the city has been
completely destroyed and the communal workers are not able to
bury the dead. After a rainfall shoes of the corpses can be
seen sticking out of the shallow pits and I have heard that
during pauses in artillery fire some corpses are simply buried
in the holes created by the fall of mortar shells. There are no
more burial coffins after 65 days of complete blockade of
Vukovar. Instead, chip-boards are quickly transformed into
coffins and then they are numerated and placed in a joint
graves. For weeks we have been without water.
Our opinion is that THEY will not allow anybody to enter and see
the truth of the destruction. People ( 15000) are treated like
animals and have become the dead meat of cannons. People are
tortured by the fear that they will be butchered if something is
not done soon.
The population of Ilok was evacuated without resistance and you
can imagine what THEY will do with Vukovar if they succeed. The
city is completely destroyed and the civilians will not be
allowed to leave and tell the true account of the occurrences.
If the conditions of life do not normalize, the people will soon
be dying of infectious disease.
Hoards that surround the city are out of army control and they
will make a massacre if something is not done.
NOTHING IS EXAGGERATED, NOT EVEN THE SMALLEST PART OF THIS
ACCOUNT, MOREOVER THERE ARE NO WORDS TO EXACTLY EXPRESS THE
SITUATION AND THE LIVING CONDITIONS IN OUR CITY.
How do we appeal for help to those we do not know? Whom do we
ask for help in the name of thousands of people, when all our
appeals and prayers for the terminating of this insane bloodshed
have been in vain. Death has become the most important part of
our lives in this demolished town. It follows us in every step
and penetrates all our thoughts and conversations.
Can anybody who has not felt at least a small part of this
reality of Vukovar understand the feeling of bitterness that is
developing within us? In the reality that surrounds us there is
no place for lies. There is only one truth about life. The life
in Vukovar is a struggle for ones door-step.
What would be the public reaction of the developed countries if
someone was to collect 2000 children within the age groups of
one month to 16 years and imprison them underground for two
months with the constant threat of death if they try to go out
into the light of day? Can anyone imagine this in Vienna, Paris,
Berlin, London and Washington? Maybe we are thousands of
kilometers apart, but why are our hearts so distant?
Let us bring together the negotiators in Vukovar. Let them be
surrounded by 2000 exhausted children and let them find even a
single argument for the continuation of the war.
Vukovar is not only a congregation of buildings. It is a living
organism which breathes. Vukovar has its blood stream, its own
life which is being taken away. They are tearing its flesh and
breaking its bones. While Vukovar in convulsion defends its
intestines, THEY, for whom it is only a dot on the map, attack
it sadistically. Give Vukovar a chance! Stop the war in Croatia!
(Translated by E.G.)
(Early October 1991)
Some pictures from the Vukovar inferno.
At the time of this writing, Vukovar had been surrounded and
pounded from all sides and from air for almost two months by
the aggressor's military forces and Serbian terrorists. The
author, an eighteen year old boy who had lost over thirty
pounds in a month and a half, gives us here an insight into
life in that town.
The original is in Croatian. No translation can convey the
spirit of pain and misery, but here is an attempt at it.
IN THE WHIRLWIND
A Sunday's afternoon. The Tenth month of the Ninth year to
the Millennium's end. Precipices around and inside me.
Memory reaches back almost Twenty years -- its last fifty
days are the sum total of all undreamt nightmares, a
punishment for all easy and lazy days, for all that had to
be done, but was not done...
* Picture One *
It's twilight. I don't know what day of the week it is, what
date it is, what hour it is. Sent aloft by hate, war birds
are flying in the sky. Artillery shells are whistling in the
air. Crouching, I run through the plowed, ghostly deserted
streets of demolished, burned-down houses. By a hedge lies
an unknown middle aged woman. A hungry-lean dog in agony
jerkily moves by her side. I throw a piece of asphalt to
chase him away, only to see him with horror run away with
tucked tail, a human hand in his bared fangs! For an instant
I stop, thoughtless, but nearby explosions force me to run,
full of powerless rage.
* Picture Two *
It's morning. I am coughing. I've got a cold, but can't
refrain from lighting one of my last cigarettes. What
follows is a new outburst of cough. I sleep on first aid
stretchers. I covered myself with my coat. The cellar is
humid. I did not remove my shoes, not during the last fifty
days. Just in case we have to run out of the building should
it burst into flames from one of the ten or so shells that
already hit it, or from those that are yet to hit it. As
long as I don't hear the breaking of glass, I don't fear the
random shrapnel. Explosions are heard in the average every
few minutes. Sometimes they come in long bursts. One can
hear machine gunning somewhere nearby. No one pays attention
to that. I haven't seen my brother for about two weeks. I
heard he is alive. The rest of my family is somewhere far. I
cannot imagine our getting together again. I've practically
lost that hope.
* Picture Tree *
"My name is Matthew. I am less than Three, but more than Two
years old. I was going to kindergarten. When mom and dad had
to leave the apartment we came to grandma's, who looked
after me. Me and my dad were taking walks every day. My dad
works at the post office, where there are many nice men. I
like very much to play with my daddy. We are big friends.
Now I cannot play with him and I did not see him for a long
time. Dad works ...
Now I play with mom and granny. We hear the CACKLING all the
time, and when it's a strong BOOM, it's our guys who are
firing. Sometimes there is even more boom, but THAT'S
-- ///// --
I ask a friend "How's your family?". "They are fine, they
live in the basement". How's the kid, I ask. "He is fine.
When he hears the machine guns, he says 'the hens are
cackling'. When shells are falling, he says 'it's nothing,
these are our guys'. When we are bombed from the air, his
comment is 'Aah, this is nothing' and keeps playing. At
first we had a hard time with him. He was afraid. But now
there is no problem. He got accustomed".
-- ///// --
The child got accustomed to the war, and so that's that!?
* Picture Four *
A couple of days in the hospital. I was hit a little. Does
not matter. I am lying in the corridor. I heard that a few
guys with whom I was in the trenches arrived. Two of them
approach and greet me. "How is it?". "Fine". "And how are
you?". "No problem, everything is OK. And how is XXXX?" They
look at each other. A third arrives. "Is he is asking about
XXXX? Here he is", says he stooping and shaking his head. He
runs his fingers through his hair showing pieces of flesh
and traces of blood....
-- ///// --
"We went on patrol when we received word that they were
hidden in a particular house. The two of us were stealing
along the houses, hiding. Then, XXXXX ran across the street
and stopped for an instant. I urged him to run back. At that
moment a shell flew in .... It was a direct hit in the
breast... All that remained of him were the legs in the
boots ... We collected the pieces in two small bags..."
There are many such stories. Some cannot be conveyed for
lack of adequate words. A great deal of blood, death and
defiance. Maybe some other time. When everything is behind
Help the Children
This is an appeal to fellow Canadians to help save the unfortunate
children of Vukovar, a completely destroyed city in Croatia. I hope
that all feel compassion for the sick and unfortunate everywhere.
This appeal is made at 2 minutes to midnight. For more than two
months the city of Vukovar has been under siege and a constant
bombardment. Vukovar hospital including its maternity ward has been
destroyed. Underground, under constant bombardment, "live" 15 000
people, including 2000 children from rly and the wounded. Since the
iege began twelve babies have been born, ushered into the world like
rats - no diapers, no soap or water, no electricity, no medicines, no
daylight. Many small children do not know what sun is.
Right now there is an outbreak of scarlet fever. The children share
the attention of three physicians with the old, dying and wounded.
Wounded citizens of Vukovar, recently evacuated, say these three
doctors hardly sleep at all. What can justify brutali rope, barely 100
km from the famous European capital of Belgrade, where many world peace
and humanitarian conferences have been held?
I appeal to all to call on the Government of Canada to provide
immediate relief for these people. Canada has the means. Recently it
helped the Kurds by dropping vital supplies from the air. The same
can be done for Vukovar, since most of the Kurd reli ationed in NATO
bases in Germany, hardly an hourUs flight from Vukovar. Canadians can
call on their government to organize a fact finding mission of medical
and military attachs from countries with missions in Belgrade, from the
European neighbours of t [... missing ...]
Stephen Corkovic Kanada
>From soc.culture.yugoslavia billboard (contribution by V.W.)
The article below appeared in "The Lancet" and describes the systematic
destruction of the Medical Centre in Vukovar during the Yugo Army's 3-month
siege of Vukovar. The director of the centre, Dr Vesna Bosanac, was arrested
after the capture of Vukovar by Yugo Army forces. She was later released in
a prisoner exchange, after being called "Female Mengele" and other epithets
in the Belgrade press.
It is the calm tone that most amazes me. For example, this is the second
account I have seen which describes two direct hits on the Medical Centre by
250 kg bombs, one of which was a dud. This account mentions not only that the
dud penetrated five floors, but that it came to rest in the bed of an
immobile patient. It calmly presents this fact, and leaves it to the reader
to infer what happened to the patient. (V.W.)
Round the World
Croatia: War against Vukovar medical centre
(On Nov 18, 1991, the Yugoslav Federal Army (YFA) entered Vukovar medical
centre after the fall of the city. "The Lancet" has received faxed
communications from Prof Matko Marusic, Dr Jozo Tomic, Dr Goranka
Muharemagic-Njegic, Dr Branko Sipek, Dr Dubravka Kuljis, and the Union of
Peace Initiatives from Slovenia. The edited text that follows is drawn from
four documents sent by these authors. A special supplement of the "Croatian
Medical Journal" discusses further the impact of the recent war on the
The hospital was shelled every day, sometimes for four hours or more. We
were never warned about attacks. We counted more than fifteen direct hits by
airplane bombs from August 25, 1991. As air and ground attacks grew more
intense, we moved the department of paediatrics lower and lower in the
building. 4 patients were stationed in a separate room measuring 3 x 3 m.
Several nurses stayed in civilian shelters and took care of most medical
problems. We visited the shelters regularly. Under our care were 5 mothers
with newborn children and 3 mothers with premature infants who were born and
grew up in the hospital basement. We had one incubator that was later
disconnected and used as an operating table for a 6.5-month-old girl. We used
our ward for a month and a half.
On Oct 5, two 250 kg bombs hit the centre. One exploded and a part of the
building disappeared. The other did not explode but pierced five ceilings
and ended up in the bed of an immobile patient. All windows were shattered
and we used plastic sheets and beds to cover the openings. We lived inside
the building under artificial light. All electricity generators were
destroyed; we used two of them to construct a working one and kept it running
to the end. It worked until 10 pm; after that time, we worked under candle
light or under the light of oil lamps. Rooms were emptied and mattresses put
on the floors.
More than 60-70% of wounded were civilians, with a high proportion of
children. Some 10% were general medical, neurological, urological, and
psychiatric patients. Those with minor wounds were released after treatment;
they came from their shelters for checkups under the artillery fire. The
severely wounded were hospitalised, and those in critical condition were kept
in the intensive care unit. The unit was located in the atom bomb shelter: 12
patients in a 36 sq m room. The dead were transported by the community
service to a building across from the hospital, put in bags or caskets, and
buried. For the past 10 days, it was impossible to bury them and about 100
corpses lay in the yard outside the hospital.
The sterilisation unit was attacked several times. We lacked antibiotics,
blood, and plasma. People came to give blood, but their blood counts were
abnormal after months of starvation. We did not have enough electricity for
all the freezers, so we could not make any supplies and even lost some. The
laboratory and the transfusion unit were damaged twice. The only test we
could complete in the past two months was a blood count.
We did not have running water for two months. Firemen from Vukovar would
bring in cistern lorries. 3 were killed and all vehicles destroyed, so we
had to draw water from underground wells. It was muddy and had to be
collected during the night as it was dangerous to leave the hospital in
daylight. The water was strictly rationed. Each of us got up to one litre
per day for drinking and personal hygiene. Food consisted of tinned and
fresh meat brought by civilians or members of the Croatian National Guard.
Most of our patients were wounded. In September, a 6-year-old girl was
admitted with multiple explosive wounds. She had a ruptured liver, trauma to
the right kidney, and thoraco-abdominal injury. She survived and returned
with us to Zagreb. On Oct 29, a grenade hit a private house killing two
boys, aged 13 and 15, and wounded 6 other civilians. On more peaceful
nights, Croatian guardsmen would bring children from civilian shelters to be
treated for common diseases, mostly respiratory infections.
The first persons to enter the hospital were the YFA officers and one
ex-worker from the centre. They installed armed guards and banned any
entrance or exit. They talked to doctors and the director of the centre, Dr
Vesna Bosanac. 9 YFA soldiers who were treated in the centre were
immediately taken away. In the morning doctors, nurses, and technical
personnel were ordered to gather in a room at 7:30 am, while the rest of the
hospital crew waited outside. Dr Bosanac was not with us. We later
understood that she had taken away by the YFA. On Nov 30, Zagreb's newspaper
reported that she was alive in a Serbian prison. A YFA officer gave a
political talk at 9:00 am. We were given four options: to stay in the
hospital under YFA jurisdiction; to go to Zagreb; to go to Novi Sad, the
capital of Voivodina; or to go to the reception centre in Sid, Serbia. 5
doctors and several members of the technical personnel, mostly Serbs, chose
to stay in the hospital. The rest of us decided to go towards Djakovo and,
Lists of patients, with their diagnoses and conditions for transport, were
prepared. Immobile patients were given plastic bags with all medical
documentation. The YFA and medical personnel agreed to leave 2 patients who
were in a critical condition in the centre.
We entered a YFA medical vehicle on the morning of Nov 20, with 4 immobile and
2 mobile wounded patients. There was a small window on the side of the truck
and we peered out. The road was full of holes and patients cried and started
bleeding. Soon we arrived in the Chetniks' village of Negoslavci. The cars
stopped, and we heard voices, shouting "Ustashas (Croatian fascists from
World War II; Serbs used to call all Croatians that name), no one will leave
the village alive!" They accused us of murdering Serbs in the hospital. I
sat by the door to protect the patients. Somebody from outside opened the
door and asked what we were doing with Ustashas. We said neither we nor our
patients were Ustashas. "Good", said a man with a white eagle insignia. "We
will not dirty our hands with your blood when we slaughter you." Our
vehicles were stoned and individuals were attacked. Several patients had
post amputation infections, and the smell of Pseudomonas aeruginosa was
Despite these adverse circumstances, the medical service and patient survival
were highly satisfactory, even excellent. Up to the last moment, we received
medical supplies from outside. It was not enough, but it came---we knew the
difficulties of such transport. Civilians collected medicines from their
houses and brought them to the hospital. The spirit of the wounded cannot be
STRADANJA DJECE U VUKOVARU
Prije ovoga rata u Vukovaru se radjalo godisnje 1100-1300 djece. Ovaj
broj se 1990. god. smanjio na 950, a u prvih 6 mjeseci 1991. god.
rodjeno je 350 djece. Prije rata u Vukovaru bilo je 15000 djece, a djece
pretskolske dobi 3500.
Mirni grad Vukovar na dvije rijeke pruzao je djeci mirno i bezbirzno
djetinjstvo, koje djeca nasega kraja nikada nece zaboraviti.
Prvi atak na intigritet djeteta ucinila je velikosrpska politika kada je
stotine djece iz srpskih obitelji na drugi dan Ukrsa nekolicini
poklonika ove politike prisilno odvela s majkama ili bez njih skelama
preko Duava u Vojvodinu, zbog navodne ugrozenosti, a sada vidimo zbog
unistenja koje su nam spremali.
Ta su djeca izgubila svoj dom, prijatelje, ucitelje i lijecnike. Tada
sam bila uvrijednjena i kao covjek i kao lijecnik gubitkom svojih
pacijenata ozaloscena pozivima majki koje su bez svoje volje morale
odvoditi svoju djecu od nas.
Kada su poceli teski artiljerijski napadi na Grad i Borovo naselje
gotovo sva djeca su organizirano otisa na more, ali u zelji da se napadi
prekinu i nadi da ce se situacija smiriti velik broj djece se do 25.
kolovoza vratio i u nadi da ce poceti skola i normalan zivot. Tada je
pcoeo najtezi napad na Grad tenkovskim i topovskim granatama, a cilj
agresoru su upravo bili skole i djecji vrtici. Pocele su prve pogibije
djece, sto nas je narocito potreslo i osvjestilo sto se dogadja. Tokom
rujna su vecina djece s majkama ili sama kao i moj mladji sin napustili
Grad te postali najusamljeniji prognanici svijeta bez roditelja, bez
doma bez priajtelja i to vjerojatno nikad nece zaboraviti.
U Gradu je ostalo oko 2000 djece. Ova djeca su s roditeljima, a cesto i
bez njih u ratnom kaosu provela 86 dana pod zemljom u podrumima i
sklonistima ne vidjevsi ni Sunca ni mirnog neba, kojim su neprekidno
fijukali projektili i uz prasak i smrtnu opasnost 9000 puta dnevno
padali oko njih. Ako bi samo na tren otisli u svoj stan na visim
katovima dogadjalo se da ga pogodi granata koja bi nekolicinu usmrtila i
veliki broj ranila.
Poginulo je po bolnickoj evidenciji 9-toro djece, najmladja beba je
imala 2 mjeseca. Mnoga djeca su ostala zatrpana kada su teski projektili
pali na podrum i usmrtili majke s djecom.
Ranjena djeca su odjednom odrasla, smireno su u strahu podnosila svoje
boli na previjanjima.
Jos dok je bio slobodan put neka su otisla s roditeljima van Grada, ali
vecina je ostala. Roditelji su htjeli do kraja braniti svoj dom, a djeca
s njima. Vukovarska djeca do tad nisu znala tko je koje nacije. To su
bila djeca koja su znala da imaju svoj grad, svoje prijatelje i susjeda.
U sklonistima je bilo po 80-150 djece. Gardisti su im donosili hranu iz
bolnice koje smo osim svjezeg mlijeka imali dovoljno. Svjezeg voca nisu
ni vidjeli ni okusili posljednja 2 mjeseca. Ipak su se djeca u podrumima
igrala, pjevala, slavila rodjendane u vecim sklonistima je organizirana
skola. Borci su u nocnim predasima posjecivali svoju djecu, brinuli za
svu djecu, u sklonista donosili im hranu, vodu i lijekove.
U jednom od civilnih sklonista koja su bila sva prenapucena pojavio se
sarlah. tada smo organizirali da pedijatar i infektolog posjete
skloniste ordiniraju terapiju i profilaksu i nije bilo epidemije, niti
drugih zaraznih bolesti.
Bilo je jedino pedikuloze, ali pored ostalog to nam je bio najmanji
U bolnici je bilo 9 novorodjencadi. Imali smo tri premoturusa koji su
nakon njege u inkubatoru zdravi i uhranjeni docekali kraj rata u
Vukovaru. U sklonistu bolnice su trajno ostala ranjena djeca koja su
izgubila dom i zdrava djeca medicinskog i tehnickog osoblja koje je
stalno boravilo i radilo u bolnici.
Ovih 44 djece je evakuirano 22. XI, nakon pada Vukovara.
Prisilnom evakuacijom nakon pada Vukovara mnoga su djeca ostala bez
jednog ili oba roditelja, a po najnovijim svjedocenjima i sada ima
zarobljene djece u Vukovaru, zajedno s njihovim roditeljima, gdje
gladuju i strahuju, jer Vukovar je sada Grad smrti i zabranjena zona u
koji je cak zabranjeno ici i novinarima i humanitarnim organizacijama.
Mnoga djeca su nakon uzasa 86 dana prosla i zatvorsku torturu. Samnom je
uz 66 zena u zatvoru u Sremskoj Mitrovici bilo i troje djece 7-9 godina.
Mirna ozbiljnih lica provodila su s nama zatvorske dana, kroz resetka na
prozorima gledala prve snjezne pahuljice. Isti ozbiljan izraz lica su
zadrzala kad su im oficiri JNA darovali bombone i igracke ne shvacajuci
u svojoj gluposti koliko su licemjerni i surovi.
Osjecala sam da ta djeca to znaju i mirno podnose svoj krizni put.
Hrvatska danas i Vukovar danas
Oko 600 djece je na popisu djece bez jednog ili oba roditelja. Od
700.000 prognanika s okupiranog dijela Hrvatske su 200.000 djece koja su
ostala bez svog doma, bez svog dvorista, igralista i izletista, bez
svoje skole i vrtica. Djeci roditelje vise ne mozemo vratiti vratimo im
njihove domove vratimo im razoreno djetinjstvo, mozda ublazimo otvorene
rane u dusi koje oni tako mirno i ozbiljno podnose.
Mozda uspijemo da ne budu ogorceni gubitnici, nego mladi ljudi koji
imaju svoju Domovinu koju ce voljeti i graditi.
Dr. Vesna Bosanac
Evidence of Mass Grave Found Near Croatian Town
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) _ A U.N.-sponsored commission on
Thursday said it discovered signs of what could be a mass
grave near the Croatian city of Vukovar, the scene of heavy
fighting last year between Serbs and Croats.
Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the U.N. envoy investigating human
rights violations in former Yugoslavia, told reporters that
the grave's surface measured about 30 square yards.
A U.S. physician who examined the site said he and
another doctor, forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow, saw
skeletal remains of four young men that apparently had been
unearthed by erosion.
One of two skulls they found had what looked like a
bullet exit wound, said the physician, Dr. Jack Geiger, who
added that vegetation-clogged mounds in the area could be an
indication of more bodies.
Geiger, a City University of New York community medicine
professor and president of the Boston-based Physicians for
Human Rights, said the doctors discovered the remains after
following the directions of a Croatian man who described a
massacre of wounded Croat soldiers taken from the Vukovar
hospital by Serb fighters.
Serbs and Croats have traded allegations of atrocities
and mass killings in Vukovar. Thousands died in the battle
for the town, whose ruins became a symbol of Croatia's six-
month war of secession last year from Yugoslavia.
Geiger, speaking by telephone from Brooklyn, N.Y. said
the incident allegedly occurred on Nov. 20, during the Serb
takeover the Croatian city.
Vukovar is now in an area patrolled by U.N.
Snow said in Zagreb that Russian peacekeepers are now
guarding the site pending a more thorough examination. He
also said there were ``several'' other mass graves around
However, he said the one described by Geiger west of the
town appears to contain victims who were executed, rather
than killed in battle.
``They do not appear to be people caught in a
crossfire,'' said Snow. He and Geiger were travelling with
Mazowiecki as consultants to the United Nations.
Geiger said a witness told the doctors that Serb
fighters took more than 100 wounded Croatian soldiers from
the hospital in Vukovar when it was evacuated under an
agreement between Serbs and Croats.
Geiger said the man told them the Croatian wounded were
executed in an area outside the city. When he and Snow
traveled there, Geiger said, they found the remains and
surface evidence that other bodies were buried.
The Red Cross has said more than 2,000 people captured
in Vukovar, most of them soldiers, were still missing.
Geiger said his six-year-old organization investigates
rights violations worldwide. Snow is well-known for his
investigation of remains from atrocities in northern Iraq
and South American countries.
UNITED NATIONS (UPI) -- U.N. human rights investigators said Thursday
that they found mass graves of victims of war crimes in Croatia during a
visit to several republics of the former Yugoslavia.
The seven-member team of investigators visited Croatia, Bosnia-
Hercegovina, Serbia and Kosovo Oct. 12-22, headed by former Polish Prime
Minister Tadeuz Mazowiecki who said in a report to the Security Council
that ``grave and massive'' human rights violations continue to occur in
the Balkan republics.
Mazowiecki said the principal goal for the continuing war in Bosnia-
Hercegovina is the establishment of ethnically-homogenous areas.
``Ethnic cleansing does not appear to be the consequence of the war,
but rather its goal,'' Mazowiecki said. ``This goal, to a large extent,
has already been achieved through killings, beatings, rape, destruction
of houses and threats.''
He cited several dramatic examples in several cities in Bosnia-
Hercegovina like Travnik, Trnopolje where displaced persons, mostly
Muslims, lived ``unspeakable squalor'' and upper respiratory infection
has spread like ``wildfire.''
One member of the team, Dr. C. Snow, a forensic anthropologist,
visited Vukovar in Croatia and located several mass graves which are now
guarded by the U.N. Protection Force as evidence of war crimes.
Snow said the farming village of Ovcara, near Vukovar, is the site of
one mass grave.
``Scattered on the surface of a 10 by 30-meter area of disturbed
earth were the remains of young adult males bearing skeletal signs of
perimortem trauma,'' Snow said. ``In the opinion of the expert, these
skeletons appear to be eroding out of a mass grave which may contain
many more bodies.''
Snow said the discovery of the grave appeared to confirm witness
reports of the disppearance of about 175 patients from the Vukovar
Hospital during the evacuation of Croatian patients in November 1991.
The report did not say which side in the war was responsible for the
mass killing. Snow said the delegation had received information about
the possible existence of mass graves in other areas and more
investigations are needed.
Mazowiecki was appointed a special investigator by the U.N.
Commission for Human Rights in Geneva this summer to probe reports of
racially motivated killings of Muslim Slavs and Croats by Serbian forces
in Bosnia-Hercegovina during their ethnic cleansing campaign. He visited
Bosnia-Hercegovina in August and issued a report strongly condemning
human rights violations there.
Each member of Mazowiecki's delegation during the second visit
investigated one area in human rights violations, including summary or
arbitrary execution, torture, arbitrary detention and displacement.
Mazowiecki said in the report to the council that the team was
allowed free access to all regions except in the Serbian-controlled
territory of Bosanski Novi-Prijedor. He said violations of basic human
rights have intensified since his first visit, even during the
international peace conference in Geneva on the former Yugoslavia.
``The war-torn situation in which tens of thousands of people have
found themselves requires emergency action by the international
community,'' Mazowiecki said.
Subj: RFE/RL Daily Report 30 NOV, 1992
UN TO DIG UP MASS GRAVE NEAR VUKOVAR. The 29 November New York
Times said that the UN War-Crimes Commission is moving to uncover
the grave at Ovcara believed to hold the remains of 300 Croats
from the Vukovar hospital killed on 20 November 1991, the day
after Serb forces took the town. It could be the basis for the
first war-crimes trial of the conflict. The International Herald
Tribune on 28-29 November reported on the "number one war-crimes
suspect held in Sarajevo," a 21-year-old Serb. The young man
described in detail how Serbian youths are recruited and trained
by their superiors to become rapists and killers, and added that
his own admitted killing of 20 prisoners and civilians "is lower
than [the] average among [the] militiamen." On 30 November UN
human rights investigator and former Polish prime minister Tadeusz
Mazowiecki writes in the Washington Post about the "massive
violation of human rights" he observed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The
collected evidence leaves no doubt as to who is responsible for
the horror: the Serbian political and military leaders in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, supported by the authorities of the Serbian
republic." Mazowiecki urges the setting up of safe havens for
Muslims as an unpleasant but temporarily necessary measure.
(Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.)
Danielle Talbot, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), Friday 20 November 1992.
MISSION TO HELP VICTIMS OF WAR
When it comes to war there is no such thing as a generation gap,
according to the Nobel Peace Prize candidate, Dr Vesna Bosanac, who was one of
more than 12,000 citizens taken prisoner during last year's siege of Vukovar.
Dr Bosanac, together with Mrs Maria Nimac Kacina, the president of the
Croatian Mothers for Peace Movement, are touring Australia to raise funds for
the young and old, the orphaned and the dispossessed.
Most were forces to flee their homes a year ago yesterday when the Serb-
dominated army "cleansed" Vukovar of its majority Croat population.
From July 1989 until Vukovar's fall on 19 November, Dr Bosanac had the
task of keeping the Vukovar medical centre open without water or electricity
as the city was levelled by bombing.
Following her imprisonment, Dr Bosanac was accused of "instigating armed
revolt against Yugoslavia', relentlessly released as part of a prisoner
Since then, she has worked for the Croatian Ministry of Health and the
Mothers for Peace organisation, urging people of all political and religious
persuasions to help end the war.
Dr Bosanac tells of the human suffering on both sides - the loss of
Croatian life matched only by the loss of Serbian life. She has little
interest in politics and sees herself as a health-care provider first and
In stark contrast to Dr Bosanac's tales of the dead and the wounded, the
so-called liberation army held what one overseas report described as a
ghoulish first anniversary first anniversary party yesterday, celebrating the
destruction of the eastern Croatian city.
According to a report by `The Independent', in the almost totally wrecked
Hotel Danube, the Mayor awarded posthumous bravery medals to Serbian fighters,
while rows of peasant women with black head-scarves munched sandwiches in
At the city graveyard, the chief liberator, Colonel Veselin Sljivancanin,
commander of the brigade which on 18 November last year overwhelmed the city's
Croat defenders, eulogised what he called the heroism of the Serbian
volunteers who rid Vukovar of its Croat population.
Colonel Sljivancanin strongly denied allegations that his forces
massacred 175 Croatian prisoners of war within 48 hours of entering the city.
The prisoners were said to have been removed from Vukovar hospital in
spite of bitter protests by workers from the International Red Cross, and
taken to a sheep farm five miles from the city. There, it was alleged, they
were killed and dumped in a pit several hundred yards behind the farm complex.
The allegations were first publicised in a report submitted to the United
nations by Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the UN special envoy in charge of investigating
rights abuses and alleged war crimes in former Yugoslavia.
The local Serbian authorities who took over control of Vukovar after the
entry of the Serb forces are blocking the exhumation of the mass grave. But
their refusal to allow an investigation has only heightened suspicions that
the farm complex, now under UN guard, harbours the secrets of the whereabouts
of as many as 3000 Croats from Vukovar who have not been accounted for.
Danas se i najveci svjetski vojni strucnjaci pomno bave nevjerojatnom
uspjesnoscu obrane Vukovara i Borova naselja. Agresori su na vukovarskom
bojistu pod zapovjednistvom generala Vranjesevica angazirali gardijsku
oklopnu diviziju sa tri brigade - beogradskom, pozarevackom i kral-
jevackom - te uz to 252. valjevacku oklopnu brigadu. Napadali su sa 360
tenkova i 4.000 ljudi samo iz te divizije, a s novosadskom i 12.
osjeckom brigadom, koja se nesto prije citava izvukla iz Osijeka, Vuko-
var je napadalo 30.000 vojnika. Taj je herojski grad nebrojeno puta
napadan iz zraka, s Dunava i iz Vojvodine. Neprijatelj je jos u pricuvi
imao 100 jurisnih helikoptera "gazela" s protuoklopnim raketama i 80
jurisnih aviona s napalm, fosfornim i kasetnim bombama. Njihov je cilj
bio jasan - sve unistiti i ubiti. No, nisu racunali na herojski otpor
Na vukovarskom bojistu napadaci su izgubili vise od 10.000 vojnika,
gotovo 400 raznih oklopnih sredstava i vise od 40 zrakoplova i helikop-
tera. To je dvije trecine svih gubitaka koje je neprijatelj imao u
agresiji na Hrvatsku. U Vukovaru je zaustavljen neprijateljev proboj ka
zapadu. Na zalost, takva obrana nije mogla proci bez nasih zrtava. Prema
podacima Sanitetskoga stozera, u Vukovaru je poginulo 1.600 branitelja i
civila, a 2.538 osoba vode se kao nestale.
Serbs Blamed for Mass Croatian Grave; U.S. Doctors Believe 200
Injured Men Taken From Hospital and Shot
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
BELGRADE, Jan. 25 - U.N. peace envoy Cyrus Vance demanded to see the
Vukovar hospital. He'd been told that hundreds of wounded Croat
patients, many with gangrene, were hiding in the hospital basement
without medicine or electricity.
Vance had rushed in an armored car to the shell-ravaged Croat
city at the end of a three-month siege that was the bloodiest ep-
isode of the 1991 war between Croats and Serbs.
The International Red Cross also wanted into the hospital. It was
Nov. 19, 1991, and the Croats had surrendered to Serb fighters
who were swarming through the devastated city.
But Yugoslav Army Major Veselin Slavancinin, field commander of
the Serb forces that had flattened much of Vukovar, would not
permit access. Tall, mustachioed and imperious, the major brushed
aside objections from the American statesman and from a Red Cross
official. The major told them that the hospital was mined and he
could not guarantee their safety.
While Slavancinin was keeping Western eyes away from the facili-
ty, Yugoslav Army troops and Serb paramilitary fighters were tak-
ing away about 200 Croat male patients, both civilians and sol-
diers, according to three witnesses. The patients have not been
seen or heard from since.
International forensic experts discovered a shallow mass grave
last fall between a fallow sunflower field and a grove of trees
about six miles southeast of Vukovar. They have since concluded
it was the scene of a machine-gun execution of about 200 people.
This is an account of an alleged Serbian war crime, a case that
has produced the first internationally gathered scientific evi-
dence of mass murder growing out of the ethnic wars in the Bal-
kans. Forensic evidence and testimony from Croat witnesses in the
case is now under review in Geneva by the U.N. war crimes commis-
Clyde Snow, an American forensic anthropologist who heads a team
investigating the Vukovar case, said in an interview today that
evidence found at the mass grave is consistent with witness tes-
timony describing how Croat patients were taken away from the
hospital by Yugoslav Army soldiers and Serb paramilitary
fighters. Witness testimony is summarized in a report released
last week by Snow and a forensic team assembled by the U.S.-based
group, Physicians for Human Rights.
According to the testimony, Yugoslav Army soldiers drove several
bus-loads of Croat hospital patients from Vukovar hospital to the
village of Ovcara where there is a large garage used for farm
equipment. "While moving from the buses to the building, the men
were beaten by Yugoslav Army soldiers and Serbian paramilitary
troops with a variety of blunt instruments. The beatings contin-
ued for several hours inside the building. According to witness
testimony, at least two men were beaten to death," the report
Snow quoted witnesses as saying that the Croats were robbed of
their valuables before they were beaten.
The report added that at about 6 p.m. on Nov. 20, "Yugoslav Army
soldiers divided the prisoners into groups of about 20 men. One
by one, each group was loaded onto a truck and driven away. At
intervals of about 15 to 20 minutes, the truck returned empty and
another group was loaded onto it."
Following detailed map information provided by a Croat hospital
patient who said he escaped from the truck by jumping out, Snow
located the mass grave last October. There he found hundreds of
bullet holes in nearby saplings and mounds of spent Kalashnikov
machine-gun casings on the ground.
"The shooters were standing on the northwest side of the grave,
shooting diagonally toward the southeast and into the trees," he
Roman Catholic crosses and rosary beads found on two bodies ex-
humed at the site indicate that the dead were Croats, Snow said.
Of the two bodies that have been examined in detail so far, Snow
said both had gunshot wounds to the head. "I wouldn't be able to
go into a court now and say with scientific certainty that these
are the hospital patients from Vukovar," Snow said. "But these
are human remains and the artifacts found with them are Croatian,
They are in a suspiciously close proximity to where witnesses
said they should be." Buttressing that evidence, a series of in-
terviews given in the past week to The Washington Post by a Serb
witness who was in Vukovar when it fell provides new details
about who was involved in killing the hospital patients.
"I saw the patients being taken away out the back door of the
hospital on Nov. 20 while Major Slavancinin was in the front tel-
ling the Red Cross that it was not safe to go inside. They took
those who were lightly wounded, who could walk," said the Serb
The witness, who does not want to be identified by name or pro-
fession, kept a diary and other notes on the week he spent with
Serb paramilitary fighters during and after the fall of Vukovar.
He said he saw paramilitary fighters working with Yugoslav regu-
lar troops in cleaning out the hospital on Nov. 18, 19 and 20.
The witness, who did not see the killing of the patients, said
many of the Serb fighters talked openly about the shooting. They
did so at breakfast while drinking brandy, following nights dur-
ing which they boasted of killing Croats.
The witness said that one of the fighters had stuffed his pockets
with rings that he said he had taken from the Croats before they
"Since five in the afternoon to one in the morning, we were kil-
ling them in Ovcara. They were begging, crying and pleading that
they had not been shooting our people," one of the fighters told
the witness, who wrote the words in his dairy.
The Serb fighters had their headquarters at 81 Nova Street in a
Serbian quarter of Vukovar which escaped the shelling that des-
troyed most of the city, the witness said. He said they were
under the command of Stanko Vujanovic, a Vukovar taxi driver who
headed a local territorial defense unit.
The diary quotes Vujanovic as complaining at breakfast at the
Nova Street house about the poor quality of the Serb fighters who
participated in the killings of the Croat patients.
"I didn't have enough of my own people for those actions, so I
had to take on drunk volunteers. Now everyone is going to know
about it because they talk too much," Vujanovic is quoted in the
diary as saying.
A Yugoslav Army internal memorandum written a month before the
fall of Vukovar echoes a similar concern about the quality and
reliability of Serb fighters in the region.
"In this area there are a lot of paramilitary formations from
Serbia . . . and there are a lot of self-proclaimed volunteers
whose primary motive is not fighting against the enemy. Rather,
it is robbery of private property and inhuman treatment of Croat
citizens," said the memorandum, which was sent to the Army's re-
gional command office and focuses on the question of "military
The memorandum, signed by Col. Milan Eremija, recommended that
all paramilitary groups in the area be disarmed. The recommenda-
tion apparently fell on deaf ears.
Two of the paramilitary groups identified as dangerous in the
memorandum, the Chetniks led by Vojislav Seselj and fighters led
by Zeljko "Arkan" Raznjatovic, carried on after the Croatia war
to play major roles last year in the Bosnian war. The State
Department has singled out both groups for committing "brutal
ethnic cleansing" and "mass murder" in Bosnia.
At a press conference today in Geneva, Snow, the U.S. forensic
expert, said plans are being made to conduct a complete exhuma-
tion of the mass grave in March. Investigators have a list of
180 missing Croat patients and 30 staff members who were in the
hospital when Vukovar fell. They also have hospital records show-
ing what wounds the patients had when they were admitted to the
hospital. With these documents and because many of the missing
patients had identifiable wounds such amputated legs, Snow said
determining the identity of the bodies with scientific certainty
"will be easy" when full-scale excavation begins. The grave
site, which is under U.N. protection, has not yet been tampered
But the planned excavation that could prove a war crime may be
delayed or cancelled by renewed heavy fighting between Croats and
Serbs, which broke out last week after a major Croat attack.
Snow acknowledged this possibility, saying that the area around
the grave is nominally under U.N. protection but "the Serbs are
in de facto control."
"It was extremely tense when we there before. If a war starts
there again, there is no way we could get in there and conduct an
Slides of the artifacts - a Roman Catholic cross and rosary
beads, and of the alleged mass graves, sprinkled with skulls were
shown today to Congress's joint Commission on Security and
Cooperation in Europe, generally known as the Helsinki Commis-
sion. In testimony, Eric Stover, director of Physicians for Human
Rights, said that forensic investigations of such places may be
the best way to "provide irrefutable evidence of the possible war
Prenosim tekst o masovnoj grobnici u Ovcari, pokraj Vukovara iz "The
Lancet"-a od 6. ozujka, strana 625.
Forensic investigation of alleged war crime near Vukovar
Last week the UN Security Council voted to set up an international war
crimes tribunal to try those accused of atrocities in the former
Yugoslavia. An alleged war crime already being investigated is that of
the "disappearance" of about 200 Croatian patients and medical staff
from Vukovar Hospital after their arrest on Nov 20, 1991. They have been
said to have been executed and buried in a mass grave in Ovcara, which
was discovered in October 1992 by Dr Clyde Collins Snow, a forensic
anthropologist, and members of the UN Protection Force. Snow, together
with Mr Eric Stover (executive director of Physicians for Human Rights),
Dr Rebecca Ann Saunder (archaeologist), and myself (representing the
Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropology) have, under the auspices of the
United Nation's Commision of Experts, completed the first phase of the
forensic investigation at the grave. The findings confirm the existence
of a clandestine mass grave containing the remains of dozens of people
killed by the graveside 6-18 months before the investigation. The cause
of death in the case of the two skeletons exposed on the surface was a
gunshot wound to the head. The grave had not been disturbed since the
time of execution and interment. If the UN mandate for the area is
renewed on March 31, the second phase should start in early April.
Morris Tidball Binz
DATELINE - Current affairs presented by Paul Murphy.
SBS TV, Wednesday 31st March, 1993, 7:00pm.
PAUL MURPHY: On the day that a Bosnian war crimes court sentenced two
Serbs to death for atrocities, evidence has emerged of a massacre in
Croatia. UN War Crimes investigators are convinced that nearly three
hundred Croatians who disappeared 16 months ago were shot by Serb
militiamen. The victims, all men, were taken from hospital beds in
Vukovar to Ovcara. Terry Lloyd [TL] from Britains ITN reports:
TL: On the edge of this secluded woodland at Ovcara, near
Vukovar, a massacre took place, the exact scale of which UN war
crimes investigators have yet to determine. UN forensic experts
who visited the site believe hundreds of Croatian men were
For the first time we can show video evidence recordered by that
UN team linking this grave with the disappearance of almost 300
Croats who were ordered at gunpoint out of Vukovar hospital by
Eleven bodies have already been uncovered here along with items
of hospital clothing. Two skulls which were examined in this
preliminary dig in December had small calibre gun-shot wounds.
A necklace amongst the remains bears the inscription "For God and
Croatia". Trees amongst the grave had been raked by gunfire and
a Serbian army ammunition box was found nearby.
This man, forensic scientist Clyde Snow, is now planning to fully
excavate the site and report back to the UN. From his laboratory
in Chicago, from where he's investigated many international
murder cases, Dr. Snow confirmed to us that a massacre had taken
place at Ovcara.
DR. CLYDE SNOW [UN forensic scientist]: Well, we have clear cut
evidence that a massacre occurred at Ovcara and the evidence so
far seems to connect the victims with the patients who
disappeared from the hospital in Ovcara on November 20 of 1991.
And, so I think this amounts to clear-cut evidence of a possible
war-crime. I can't think of any other reason why we would find
two, perhaps as many as 200-250 people, executed with gun-shot
wounds in a clandestine grave.
TL: These pictures were taken shortly before those 300 men were
forced out of Vukovar hospital at the end of a 97 day siege of
the town which had been a symbol of Croatian defiance.
This federal army commander prevented Red Cross officials from
entering the building [Vukovar hospital] until his men had
rounded up all the Croatian males inside.
It's said that at that point the horrifying ordeal began. The
women and children were separated from the men-folk, who included
the lightly injured, boys, hospital staff and other townsfolk who
had come here believing that they were to be evacuated. Instead,
they were lead from this back door to the hospital to waiting
coaches. Their families have never seen them since.
The UN believes the men were then driven through these war
ravaged streets to a local army barracks. There they were badly
beaten and one report suggests that 10 Croat fighters were taken
outside and shot. Two hours later, battered and dazed, the
remainder were on the move again, driven out of Vukovar, 5 km
south to the farming community of Ovcara.
There was to be one more diversion, the men were taken to this
farm-out building were they were forced to run a gauntlet of
Chetniks wielding baseball bats and rifle buts.
This was the final and fatal leg of their journey. The men were
marched across this field and here, to were a freshly dug trench
was waiting for them. It's alleged that they were then lined-up
and shot through the head.
What is fact is the UN have a list of 294 names of people missing from
Vukovar hospital. This is were they could be buried. The evidence
dug-up so far by the UN have been angrily refuted by Serb militia
leaders. Local Serbian journalist, Mirko Stankovic, is equally
MIRKO STANKOVIC [speaking through an interpreter]: No, no, no.
The Army was very, very principled. They respected all the
international conventions. There are witnesses who've said that
even the ones who were executed, I mean supposedly to have been
executed, were exchanged.
TL: Yet ITN has traced a key witness, who's testimony to the
United Nations will prove crucial to war crimes investigators.
Twenty year old Zarko Kojic was taken from Vukovar hospital and
badly beaten at Ovcara farm. He says that he escaped the firing-
squad because he was recognised by a Serb soldier who spared him.
When we showed Zarko pictures [video footage] taken that November
day he immediately pointed to one man who he described as the
ZARKO KOJIC [Ovcara survivor, speaking through an interpreter]:
This is the man who was at Ovcara and who was the one who carried
out most of the beatings. He was the most blood-thirsty. He was
the one who broke my glasses and beat me with a baton. He
especially took pleasure in beating one of my friends, called
Kemo. They beat him until he showed no signs of life. He lay on
his stomach, blood pouring from his mouth and ears. This happened
very close to me and that is why I don't believe he is alive.
TL: That friend, 31 year old Kemo Siata, is amongst those listed
as missing by the UN. His family now live as refugees on the
Croatian coast. They heard the story of Ovcara farm but cling to
the hope that somehow he'd survived and that one day they'd be
VALERIJA SIATA [wife of Kemo Siata, speaking through an
interpreter]: As time passes it becomes more and more difficult
to cope. With the girls it's easier, with the boy it's more
difficult. This is the first time I've told the story in front
of him. He didn't know about it. He keeps on asking me, "Where
is my father?" He asks me, "Why isn't my father calling me? Why
do you keep lying to me?" The older he gest the more questions
TL: The answers to a little boys' questions and those posed by
relatives of 293 other missing men may soon be revealed by war
crime investigators who will return to Ovcara to discover the
*** END ***
COMMISSION OF EXPERTS PREVENTED FROM INVESTIGATING MASS GRAVE
NEW YORK, 2 November -- Despite repeated assurances from Serb
authorities in Knin, a United Nations team has been temporarily
prevented from investigating the site of a mass grave at Ovcara in
After receiving written approval from the head of the Serb
administration in Knin, the United Nations Commission of Experts
sent a team of 60 to The former Yugoslavia to begin work on the
site near Vukovar. Their purpose was to investigate a site where
as many as 200 victims of a possible mass execution were buried.
The team included 18 forensic experts from Physicians for Human
Rights, 33 members of Dutch military engineering unit and five
members of the Canadian War Crimes Investigative Team.
After the arrival of the group, local Serb officials in
Sector East began to object, finally stating that the
investigation would have to wait until "an overall political
solution had been found to the situation in former Yugoslavia".
The Chairman of the Commission of Experts, Cherif Bassiouni, then
went to Knin and was told by the "prime minister", Mr. Bjegovic,
that approval to begin work would be given by 1 November at the
That approval has not been given, and Mr. Bassiouni returned
to United Nations Headquarters in New York. Upon leaving Zagreb,
Mr. Bassiouni said, "Our immediate humanitarian aim must be to
identify the remains of the people buried there and end some of
the pain suffered by the families of people who have disappeared".
Mr. Bassiouni said the Commission's work was continuing in other
United Nations Protected Areas in western Slavonia and in the
Medak pocket and Dubrovnik. He noted with appreciation the
positive and helpful attitude of the Government of Croatia. Mr.
Bassiouni added, "The Commission will continue its efforts to
remove all obstacles to the exhumation and identification of the
remains and to complete this project soon".
The Commission of Experts was established pursuant to
Security Council resolution 780 (1992) asking the
Secretary-General to form an impartial panel to investigate grave
breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other breaches of
international humanitarian law in the former Yugoslavia.
A more detailed briefing documents is available from the
Department of Public Information (DPI) in New York and Geneva
and from the Commission's Office at the United Nations in Zagreb.
* *** *
EXCAVATION OF MASS GRAVE AT OVCARA DELAYED BY LOCAL SERB
Preliminary Survey Concluded Mass Execution of 200
The investigation of a mass grave site at Ovcara, near
Vukovar in eastern Croatia -- an area controlled by the
self-proclaimed Serb administration in Knin in the United Nations
Protected Area (UNPA) Sector East -- has been delayed by local
representatives of that administration, according to a briefing
paper prepared by the Commission of Experts, established by
Security Council resolution 780 (1992) to examine possible
violations of humanitarian law and the 1949 Geneva Conventions in
the former Yugoslavia. The Commission has been preparing for the
past 10 months for the excavation of the grave site.
A team of forensic experts provided by Physicians for Human
Rights conducted a preliminary survey of the site in December
1992 and concluded that a mass execution had taken place, with the
grave containing perhaps as many as 200 bodies. The team also
concluded that the executioners sought to bury their victims
secretly, since the location of the grave is remote and it had not
been disturbed since the execution and interment. The grave
appeared to be consistent with the testimony of witnesses claiming
that the site was the place of execution and burial of the
patients and medical staff members who had disappeared during the
evacuation of the Vukovar hospital on 20 November 1991. Although
there were indications that some of the bodies were Croatians,
scientific identification would have to await excavation of the
grave and forensic examinations of a number of bodies.
Since the survey of the site, the Commission had made
significant efforts to obtain the resources necessary for the
eight- to 10-week excavation. By September 1993, arrangements had
been made for a Dutch military engineering unit to provide
logistical support and the necessary digging equipment,
transportation of the remains, morgue facility and medico-legal
examination equipment. The Commission had also been orally
assured of cooperation by representatives of the Knin
administration. In a letter of 7 September, Mr. Bjegovic of the
Krajina administration had confirmed in writing that "the official
authorities of the Republic of Serb Krajina will render their
maximum contribution to the actual project". The Commission had asked Mr.
Bjegovic to advise the local administration in Ovcara, who
subsequently said they were unaware of the authorization.
On 15 and 16 October the Commission received decrees from the
Krajina administration authorizing the excavation, on condition
that the medico-legal examination not take place in Croatia.
Although the Physicians for Human Rights forensic team of more
than 60 persons had planned to conduct the examination in Zagreb,
the Commission agreed to do it elsewhere.
After the arrival of the forensic team in the former
Yugoslavia, local representatives of the Knin administration in
Ovcara began to create further obstacles to the project. Finally,
on 22 October, the Commission was informed by Colonel Milanovic
(from Sector East) that, despite previous assurances, the
Commission would have to postpone all activities in Ovcara until
an overall political solution had been found to the situation in
former Yugoslavia. In a 30 October meeting, Mr. Bjegovic
expressed his regret over the difficulties encountered by members
of the Commission. He went on to promise his full cooperation and
stated he would confirm that all obstacles to the operation had
been removed by 1 November -- a confirmation that the Commission
b Expressing its belief that truth about the Ovcara mass grave
is "impossible to hide", the Commission was continuing its efforts
to overcome obstacles and bring about earlier written promises of
cooperation. The Commission deplores the delay on humanitarian
grounds, since identification of the remains at the grave site
would alleviate the anxieties of the families of disappeared
persons. At the same time, the Commission was continuing its
field investigations in Sector West, the Medak pocket and
Dubrovnik. In addition, the Commission pointed out that
throughout the preparations of each of the investigations
mentioned, the attitude of the Government of Croatia had been
positive and helpful.
The Commission was mandated to analyse the information
received pursuant to resolutions 771 (1992) and 780 (1992) and to
provide the Secretary-General with its conclusions on the evidence
of "grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other violations
of international humanitarian law". In its resolution 827 (1993),
the Council had encouraged the Commission to continue its
activities "on an urgent basis", pending the appointment of the
Prosecutor of the International Tribunal established to prosecute
persons responsible for such violations. On 21 October, the
Council named the Prosecutor, Ramon Escovar-Salom of Venezuela, to
complete the process of establishing the International Tribunal
for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations
of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of
the Former Yugoslavia since 1991.
* *** *