Archive for July, 2006

Burial of Prijedor Victims Identified with the Assistance of ICMP

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

At ceremonies in nine different locations across the region of Prijedor, in north-western Bosnia-Herzegovina, 305 victims of the 1992-95 conflict will be buried tomorrow, Thursday 20 July 2006. Most of them were killed during the summer of 1992 and the burial is being held on the 14th anniversary of many of the deaths. All the bodies to be buried were identified with the assistance of the International Commission on Missing Persons DNA-led identification program.More than 3,300 persons were reported as missing from the Prijedor municipality following the end of the conflict. So far, 1,449 have been identified.

The remains of the victims to be buried could not have been accurately identified without the use of DNA. ICMP’s DNA-led identification process requires obtaining DNA profiles from bone samples of exhumed mortal remains and matching them with DNA profiles of blood samples from missing persons’ relatives.

“Our thoughts are always with the families of the victims; we understand their need for closure, for truth and justice,” said Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Chief of Staff. “It is important for us that we are able to contribute to that process by providing technical assistance to the authorities, as well as working directly with family members of the missing.” she added.

ICMP began to establish its DNA-led method of identification in the late 1990s and the first DNA match on its system, for a 15 year-old boy from Srebrenica, was in November 2001. Since then, ICMP has obtained DNA matches for more than 10,000 missing persons in the former Yugoslavia.

The ICMP DNA-led system was a revolution in the world of forensic science. Until it was introduced, identifications were made based on so-called “traditional” techniques, looking at factors such as age, size, or gender, or from clothing or personal effects. With such large numbers of mortal remains, and with many of them deteriorated and unrecognizable, accurate identifications using traditional techniques were almost impossible.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, through its use of DNA technology to identify mortal remains, ICMP estimates that there are over 15,000 persons still unaccounted for, of which 10,000 to 12,000 have not yet been exhumed from mass graves.

Burial of Srebrenica Victims Identified by ICMP

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

Some 500 victims of the 1995 fall of Srebrenica, recovered from mass graves across eastern Bosnia, were buried today at the Potocari Cemetery just outside Srebrenica, their identities established by DNA testing conducted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).The memorial ceremony marking the eleventh anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica is allowing family members to bury their dead with dignity, the fate of their missing loved ones finally resolved. Of the 7,789 Srebrenica victims in the ICMP database, for whom family members have come forward and given a blood sample for DNA identification, 2,636 have been identified to date.

Today’s collective burial includes 489 victims of the 1995 fall of Srebrenica and 16 close relatives of those victims who were killed in other events during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. All were identified with the assistance of ICMP’s DNA-led identification process. The remains of a further 120 identified victims will not be buried today; only parts of those remains have been found and family members have decided to wait until further body parts are recovered before burial.

In many cases, the bodies of Srebrenica victims were broken apart when heavy machinery was used by the perpetrators to dig up the mass graves and rebury the bodies in smaller secondary mass graves in an effort to hide the evidence of their crimes. This is why finding and identifying the victims is so time-consuming. It is also one of the core reasons ICMP pioneered the use of DNA as the primary tool in identification of large numbers of victims, a process that has dramatically sped up identification of the victims.

ICMP opened a specialized center to re-associate body parts in January last year, using DNA to match bones from the same individual while concurrently searching for the more complicated DNA matches between victims and their living family members. This re-association system makes the process of identification and returning remains to families shorter and thus less painful.

“The work of ICMP is vitally important in establishing the truth about what happened, not only for the families, but also for the future of BiH society. The truth is a crucial factor in the reconciliation process. By providing irrefutable scientific evidence about the identity of the victims, we are making the extremists who still deny these events took place less and less credible,” said ICMP Chief of Staff Kathryne Bomberger.

ICMP DNA Identification of 10,000th Victim

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) passed a major milestone Wednesday, when it recorded 10,000 DNA matches for victims of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. The 10,000th missing person to be identified using ICMP’s unique DNA-led system was a man missing from Prozor, in Central Bosnia, since 1993. The ICMP DNA match report, which indicates the identity of the man with a certainty of 99.99987 per cent, will be forwarded to the local court-appointed pathologist in Sarajevo, who will conduct an official post-mortem examination and make the final, legal identification. The remains will then be returned to the missing man’s family. (more…)