At the trial to the war-time commander of the Army of the Republic of Srpska (VRS) General Ratko Mladić at the Hague Tribunal, the forensic expert of the prosecution Ian Hanson said that ‘’371 group of remains’’ have been exhumed from the largest mass grave in the Tomašica mine near Prijedor.
In these groups, counted are the whole bodies, body parts, as well as the individual bones. The final number of victims found will be known after the identification with the DNA method, explained Hanson, who in 2013 supervised the exhumation in Tomašica as the Deputy director of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) for Forensics.
The witness indicated that some of the corpses from Tomašica have earlier been transferred to the secondary mass grave at the site Jakarina kosa near Prijedor. From that location, Hanson was precise, in 2001 ‘’130 complete bodies and 259 body parts’’ were exhumed, i.e. the remains of ‘’minimally 298 persons’’.
“The connection between the remains from Tomašica and Jakarina kosa was confirmed by DNA analysis”, said Hanson, adding that no military uniforms or other military items were found during the exhumations, but only the items that people carry with them every day.
According to the indictment that charges Mladić with the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout B&H, Prijedor is one of the municipalities in which the prosecution had the proportions of genocide.
According to the prosecutors, the Bosniaks buried in the Tomašica mine were killed by the VRS forces in the villages around Prijedor in the spring of 1992, during the operations of ethnic cleansing of that area.
Hanson also testified that the traces of excavations and the consequent “crumbling” of the remains with heavy machinery such as large excavators were found during the exhumation.
Some of the remains were, therefore, found on the surface. According to the witness, the grave was covered by a vast amount of loam, and 40.000 cubic meters of earth have been removed during the excavations.
The corpses were, according to the findings of experts, laid in the grave in at least four occasions, and the layers of the bodies were separated with layers of loam. Since the loam prevented the oxygen from reaching the corpses, the decomposition of the bodies almost did not occur.
“The bodies were very well preserved, which confirms that they were buried shortly after death”, Hanson said.