Process to Review Cases of Unidentified Mortal Remains in BiH Facilities is Welcomed by BiH Prosecutor and ICMP

Article posted on June 5, 2013

A process initiated by the BiH Prosecutor’s Office to undertake a review of all mortuary facilities throughout BiH, started its activities at Gradsko Groblje ‘Sutina’ mortuary in Mostar. The review whose main actors will be the BiH Missing Persons Institute, Brčko DC and BiH Prosecutors’ Offices, will take stock of these facilities, i.e. it will inventory all unidentified remains in the 12 facilities within BiH.

There are currently some 9,300 cases in mortal remains storage facilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina that are unidentified. These cases are currently known to represent the mortal remains of approximately 2,500 individuals, for which ICMP has a unique genetic profile obtained from a bone sample received from local authorities. These have not been matched to over 9,000 full sets of blood samples voluntarily provided to ICMP by over 18,000 family members of the missing.

The inventory will determine the status of each case, and assess what work needs to be done so they may be resolved. ICMP is providing a dedicated team of anthropologists to give technical assistance to the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, MPI, cantonal and regional prosecution offices as well as the Brčko DC Prosecutor’s Office in their efforts to find a solution for each of these cases.’

“BIH Prosecutor’s Office supports all activities aimed at locating and identifying mortal remains of missing persons, since this is an important issue for the families of war crime victims. They have search for the mortal remains of their relatives for years in order to give them a dignified burial. This process is also important for war crime processing, as evidence in these court cases is often based on the located and identified victim mortal remains. The State of BiH and the International Community must support us in this process, because the issue of war crime processing is a key to establishing a rule of law in BiH”, said Goran Salihović, BiH Chief Prosecutor.

“ICMP has for years advised that the unidentified remains in BiH mortuaries need a thorough review. Thanks to the initiative of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office we hope that progress will finally be made in resolving the status of these cases and that as consequence we can make new identifications. This process will require close cooperation between ICMP, the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, MPI, court-appointed pathologists as well as entity and lower level prosecutor’s offices to be successful”, said ICMP Director General Kathryne Bomberger.

Of the 30,000 people estimated missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, over 70 % have now been accounted for, of which the majority were accurately identified in cooperation with ICMP. ICMP was created in 1996 with the primary role of ensuring the cooperation of governments in locating and identifying missing persons.