Saturday, July 09, 2005
Bosnian remains head for burial
By AIDA CERKEZ-ROBINSON
Associated Press Writer
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Thousands lined Sarajevo's main street Saturday to watch a funeral cortege of tractor-trailer trucks transport 610 bodies to the site of a memorial for victims of Europe's worst massacre since World War II.
Weeping shattered the silence as the canvas-covered trucks trundled to the front doors of the Bosnian president's office while en route to the east Bosnian town of Srebrenica. The bodies will be buried during the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the massacre on Monday.
"My older son is on those trucks," said Sabra Mujic, 64, wiping her tears. "I'm still missing my husband and my younger son. I wish they would be here together."
Among those who paid tribute was the Bosnian Muslim member of the country's multiethnic presidency, Sulejman Tihic. Neither the Serb nor the Croat members of the presidency came to pay their respects.
Some 8,000 Muslims, mostly boys and men, were slaughtered at Srebrenica in July 1995 by Bosnian Serb soldiers who had overrun the eastern town. The killings in what was then a U.N.-protected zone came shortly before the end of the country's 1992-95 war.
The bodies were dumped in mass graves across the countryside and are still being found. Thousands are still missing.
Germany Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on Saturday urged the detention of fugitive Bosnian Serb leaders Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic to help prevent any repeat of the massacre. The U.N. war crimes tribunal court in The Hague, Netherlands has charged the two with genocide.
Fischer said the killing was the "gruesome climax" of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's policy of ‘ethnic cleansing' against Muslims and Croats during the Balkan wars and must not be repeated. Milosevic is in custody and facing a trial at the tribunal.
Forensic experts have found 5,000 bodies in 60 mass graves in the area of Srebrenica. DNA sampling and other forensic methods have led to the identification of 2,079 remains. Of these, 1,327 have been buried at a cemetery for victims which is part of the memorial center placed in the Srebrenica suburb of Potocari.
About 250,000 people were killed during the country's war among Muslims, Croats and Serbs.
Of the 610 victims on the trucks Saturday, two were aged 14 and several others were over 70, said Jasmin Odobasic, member of the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons in charge of the exhumation process. The cortege began at an identification center for victims in the central town of Visoko, after family members said a final farewell — many of whom were comforted by having a corpse to bury.
"I'm sort of relieved, because I found my sons Hakija and Hazim after 10 years," said Hata Halilovic, 70, just before offering a prayer near their caskets in Visoko.
Beside Halilovic, 9-year-old Envera Hasanovic lifted her hands up to pray for her grandfather. She was born in August 1995, two months after her pregnant mother lost her husband, two brothers-in-law, and a father in Srebrenica.
"My father is still missing," she said.
A personal comment, I find it distressing and sad that neither the Croat nor the Serbian members of the Presidency showed up to show their respects. it would have been a the right thing to do. Their absence bothers me very much.