Tomašica, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Tomašica
Village
Tomašica is located in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tomašica
Tomašica
Coordinates: 44°52′N 16°46′E / 44.86°N 16.77°E / 44.86; 16.77
CountryBosnia and Herzegovina
EntityRepublika Srpska
MunicipalityPrijedor
Population
 (1991)
 • Total908
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)

Tomašica is a village in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Prijedor municipality of the Republika Srpska entity.

Mass grave[edit]

In August 2013, one of the larger primary mass grave sites from the Bosnian War was discovered by Bosnian authorities. Exhumation activities were assisted by forensic experts from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and according to witnesses contain upwards of 1,000 Bosniak and Croat victims killed by Bosnian Serb forces.[1] Initial media reports placed the number of remains at 360.[2] Exhumations were postponed until spring due to winter weather, but experts are confident that the grave holds at least 850 bodies.[3]

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) gathered evidence from the area for possible use in prosecutions.[1] Thus far 16 Bosnian Serbs have been sentenced by the ICTY to a sum of 230 years for war crimes committed in Tomašica's municipality of Prijedor.[4] On November 25, 2013, Theodor Meron, president of the ICTY, visited the site and stated he was "face to face with horror".[5]

Once the bodies from the grave site were found, they were taken to a mortuary to begin the ICMP’s DNA laboratory system. At the end of the process, the bodies would ideally be returned to their families for proper burial. The process for identifying the exhumed bodies involves pathologists, mortuaries, autopsies, DNA laboratories, data-matching software, court orders, and much more.[6]

Legal responses[edit]

In October 2014, the case of Ratko Mladic was reopened in order to incorporate newly found evidence from the Tomasica grave site. The Prosecution was then able to include six expert and seven fact witnesses, and documentary evidence. Prior to this decision, the Chamber had ruled that the Prosecution could not use evidence related to Tomasica.[7]

Judges found that evidence from the Tomasica grave site held relevance. The Prosecution stated, “that the Material clarifies the organised and large-scale nature of killings in Prijedor, and the VRS’s (Army of Republika Srpska) role therein.”[7]

In June 2015, at the trial of Ratko Mladić, the forensic director of the ICMP, Thomas Parsons, testified that investigators had exhumed 385 sets of remains from Tomašica, and that 211 further remains had been removed from the site and reburied at Jakarina Kosa at some point after the war, meaning that a total of 596 bodies had been buried at Tomašica in 1992.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Marshall, Penny. "21 years after the war the ground in Bosnia is giving up its secrets". ITV News. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  2. ^ "Huge Bosnia mass grave excavated at Tomasica - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  3. ^ "Winter halts digging at Bosnia's largest mass grave". news.trust.org. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  4. ^ Sito-Sucic, Daria (2013-10-22). "Bosnia digging up mass grave hidden for 20 years by Serb silence". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  5. ^ "UN tribunal's president visits Bosnian mass grave". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  6. ^ Jennings, Christian (2013-11-10). "From Bosnia to Syria: the investigators identifying victims of genocide". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  7. ^ a b "Press | International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia". www.icty.org. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  8. ^ "U nastavku suđenja Mladiću svjedočio forenzički direktor ICMP-a". www.avaz.ba. Retrieved 2016-04-21.