Team to probe missing belongings of Srebrenica victims

11th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

A team of lawyers said Thursday they will probe claims that personal belongings of people killed in 1995 at Srebrenica were destroyed by international prosecutors in The Hague.

Victims groups in Bosnia, representing relatives of those killed, have accused the international court of destroying cherished items taken from the crime scene to the Netherlands to be used as evidence.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslovia (ICTY) was set up by the UN in The Hague to try war crimes committed during the Balkans conflict.

"We are at the preliminary stage... We are still trying to find out the facts," said British lawyer Hugh Mercer, at a press conference in Sarajevo launching the probe.

Mercer, part of a group of British and Bosnian lawyers working on the case, said investigators would work with ICTY prosecutors to find out if any items were in fact destroyed.

"The mothers want to insure that these (items), these memories, are not lost," Mercer said, adding that "someone should be responsible" if some possessions were lost.

Bosnian lawyer Damir Alic said the ICTY had already told the investigative team that none of the items used at trial were destroyed.

"But we are talking about those destroyed which were not used" as evidence, Alic said.

The women hope "these artifacts will form part of the future museum", Mercer explained.

"They destroyed our souvenirs, the last links with our murdered men and children," said Hajra Catic, head of a victim's association called Srebrenica Women.

Srebrenica was a United Nations-protected Muslim enclave until July 11, 1995, when it was overrun by Bosnian-Serb forces who loaded thousands of men and boys onto trucks, killed an estimated 8,000 and then threw their bodies into mass graves.

© 2011 AFP

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