Srebrenica: Twenty-one years after they were killed in Europe’s worst massacre since World War II, the remains of 127 people will finally be laid to rest Monday in Srebrenica.
The youngest, Avdija Memic, was just 14 when Bosnian Serb forces in the Bosnian town killed 8,000 Muslim men and boys in July 1995, five months before the end of the country’s inter-ethnic war.
The oldest, Mustafa Hadzovic was 77.
The 127 coffins — containing remains of the most-recently identified victims, including a dozen who were under 18 when they were killed — will be buried at a memorial site after a service attended by several thousand people.
On Monday morning, victims’ families headed towards the coffins wrapped in green cloth at the memorial centre.
Widows and daughters wept as men tried to comfort them. Many mourners knelt next to the coffins. Some caressed the cloth coverings, or placed flowers, or said prayers.
Other mourners waited near the freshly dug graves where the remains of their loved ones will be laid to rest after a prayer read by Bosnia’s grand mufti, Husein Kavazovic.
– ‘Pain is immense’ -“My brother is here,” Ajkuna Jakubovic told AFP, pointing to a coffin.
“The pain is immense,” whispered the 62-year-old woman who came with her sister Nura to bury Sabit Krdzic.
“His bones were found in the woods… Seven years ago we were told that only two bones were found, but recently more remains were discovered and we decided to bury what was found.”
In all, some 6,300 victims are buried at the Srebrenica memorial site and 230 in other cemeteries, according to Bosnia’s institute of missing persons.
The remains of around 1,500 other victims have yet to be identified or in some cases, located.
In March, a UN tribunal found former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic guilty of genocide over his role the killings, and sentenced to 40 years in jail.
Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic is still on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on genocide and crimes against humanity charges also related to the Srebrenica massacre.
Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war claimed some 100,000 lives and left the Balkans country deeply divided along ethnic lines.