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War Crimes

Grave Fails to Yield Victims of Mass Killing in Kosovo

Forensic experts in Kosovo uncovered only a few human remains at a grave site in the Kosovo village of Rezalle, dashing hopes the bodies of over 40 victims of a massacre will be found.

Edona Peci – BIRN

An exhumation of a grave in Rezalle, which closed on Thursday after three days of work, found “only a few human remains”, Arsim Gerxhaliu, head of the justice ministry’s forensics department, told BIRN.

The remains of the 42 Kosovo Albanians allegedly killed by Serbian forces during an attack on the village on April 5, 1999 have yet to be found.

A Human Rights Watch report in 2001 suggested that a month after the killings, “the bodies were dug up with bulldozers from shallow graves in the field”, and the remains replaced with the carcasses of dead cows, according to testimony from Kosovo Liberation Army fighters.

The Kosovo authorities believe that three of 50 bodies of Kosovo Albanians that were recently exhumed from a mass grave at a quarry near Raska in southern Serbia could be the remains of some of the people killed in Rezalle.

Authorities hoped that forensic evidence from Rezalle could help to identify more of the bodies found at Raska, but Gerxhaliu said after the exhumation was closed that now “there is little hope.

“However, we have made some comparisons of the samples found in Rezalle with those in Raska,” he said.

More than 1, 700 people remain missing in Kosovo from the confict of the late 1990s.

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