Amor Masovic from the BH Institute for Missing Persons said at the trial of Radovan Karadzic that there were 8,262 persons whose disappearance was related to the events in Srebrenica in July 1995. In the cross-examination, Karadzic contested the figure, referring to the preliminary estimates of the number of missing persons presented at a BH Presidency session in August 1995

Amor Mašović, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialAmor Mašović, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

The trial of Radovan Karadzic continued with the evidence of Amor Masovic, member of the Board of Directors of the BH Institute for Missing Persons, in charge of recovering persons who went missing in the war, their identification and delivery of their remains to their families. During the war, Masovic held top posts in the State Commission for the Exchange of Prisoners of War and Dead Bodies. After the war, Masovic was appointed president of the Commission for Tracing Missing Persons in the BH Federation. In 2008, the Commission was transformed into the state-level Institute for Missing Persons.

Masovic has already testified at four trials before the Tribunal. According to the summary of the written statement admitted into evidence in the Karadzic case, Masovic’s testimony pertains to the efforts, methodology and findings of these institutions and his involvement in the exhumation, post mortem examination and identification of the remains of the victims recovered from mass and individual graves throughout BH. The prosecution has asked Masovic to produce a report on the exhumed and identified persons who had been killed in the incidents listed in Annexes A and B to the indictment against Karadzic.

In the cross-examination, Karadzic tried to contest each and every claim Masovic made in statement, and to discredit the witness himself. Karadzic argued that the witness had ‘an extremely improper and deleterious’ attitude towards Serbs. The witness purportedly ‘covered up’ the Serb victims in order to show that only the Muslims suffered in the war, Karadzic claimed. Masovic dismissed these accusations, noting there was nothing discriminatory in his attitude towards Serb victims. In his evidence today, Masovic said for the first time that he had personally descended to the bottom of a 100-metre pit in Eastern Herzegovina to search for the remains of a Serb family.

Replying to Karadzic’s questions, Masovic said that the International Commission for the Missing Persons estimated the number of persons killed in Srebrenica at approximately 8,100. Masovic thought that the figure of 8,262 missing persons whose deaths were related to the events in Srebrenica calculated by his Institute was more precise. In a bid to contest this claim, Karadzic used the minutes of a BH Presidency meeting in August 1995 when preliminary numbers for Srebrenica victims were presented. At the time, about 31,000 inhabitants of Srebrenica were presumed to have reached Tuzla, about 670 persons were thought to have headed in the direction of Zepa and another 2,000 persons were thought to have remained in the woods. If all those numbers are added up, the figure of 7,000 to 8,000 victims was beyond the realm of possibility, Karadzic said, given that, as he claimed, about 35,000 persons lived in Srebrenica at the time.

Masovic told Karadzic he didn’t know what the Presidency members discussed. What he does know, however, is that at least 6,800 complete or incomplete remains of Srebrenica victims have so far been recovered at 450 locations. The Srebrenica victims figures, Masovic said, are based on the mass graves that were at one point dug up using bulldozers; the mangled bodies were then transferred to new locations. The remains of one victim were found in four mass graves in two municipalities, Masovic explained. Unfortunately, that set of remains has yet to be completed, he added.

The trial of the former Republika Srpska president for genocide and other crimes in the war in BH continues tomorrow morning with the evidence of a protected witness.