Remains of 93 Serbs exhumed in Croatia


CROATIA: The bodies of 93 victims of a Croat military operation against Serbs in 1995 have been exhumed from a Serb Orthodox churchyard in Croatia. The exhumation was performed under the supervision of the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, the state news agency Hina reported yesterday.

It quoted Mr Ivan Grujic, head of the Croat team carrying out the task, as saying that the victims, buried in the town of Gracac in southern Croatia, had been killed at various locations in the district of Lika.

Military operation Storm was carried out in August 1995 by Croats to recover territory which Serb insurgents had seized.

"We established that they were individual graves and not a common grave," the official was quoted as saying. The bodies had been wearing military uniforms and had papers and weapons with them, implying that proper burials had been carried out in accordance with the Geneva Convention, he said.

Digging is to continue for several more days. Meanwhile, the trial of four Croats charged with war crimes against Serb civilians during Storm opened in the southern town of Sibenik last week.

The four, among them a former officer and three former soldiers, are accused of the killings of four civilians. All four have pleaded not guilty.

The four men have been in custody since September 2001. Three had staged a hunger strike to protest the length of trial preparations.