Podrinje Identification Project (PIP) Mortuary

Photographing of clothes found in mass grave

Located in Tuzla, the PIP mortuary facility conducts human remains analysis (pathology and anthropology) and DNA sampling, and coordinates the identification process for cases of persons missing from the 1995 fall of Srebrenica. Postmortem examinations are combined with antemortem data, personal effects and DNA match reports, and results are coordinated with local identification authorities to return identified remains to their families. A tremendous forensic challenge faced by PIP is the fact that many graves associated with Srebrenica were secondary graves, where bodies were moved months after the initial deposition in primary mass graves. This attempt to conceal the location of the mortal remains gave rise to extensive fragmentation of the bodies, and commingling of skeletal elements from different individuals.

A refrigerated mortuary at ICMP’s PIP where mortal remains from Srebrenica are stored

Therefore, the identification process requires both re-association of separated body parts of the same individual, often from different secondary graves, as well as family matching of DNA to establish identity. This is accomplished by a carefully devised approach of anthropological analysis and DNA sampling that has been extremely successful in establishing the identity of over 6600 individuals reported missing from the 1995 fall of Srebrenica. PIP case managers play an important role in interacting with families to obtain information needed for the identification process, and in assisting the families with information and support as their identified loved ones are returned to them.