‘Mass Grave’ search launched in Serb village

War crimes investigators have begun searching a site in a Serbian village believed to contain a mass grave holding the bodies of more than 250 Kosovo Albanians killed during the 1998-99 war.

Investigators from Serbia and the European Union rule of law mission, EULEX, began searching ground in the village of Rudnica in southwest Serbia on Thursday after aerial imagery suggested the presence of hundreds of buried corpses, officials from Serbia’s War Crimes Prosecutor’s office told Balkan Insight.

Serbian deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric told broadcaster RTS it was hoped the investigation would “put an end” to speculation over what happened in Rudnica during the Kosovo War.

“Each family must know what happened to its missing ones,” he said.

It has not been determined who killed the people believed buried at the site in the Raska region, but bodies are believed to have been unearthed and then re-buried in order to hide evidence of war crimes committed during the rule of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

Samples taken from the site will be sent to Belgrade for analysis to determine whether skeletal remains are present, Vekaric said.

Serbia announced on May 10 that, with the help of EULEX, it had uncovered a mass grave.

An investigation at the site ordered shortly after by the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office failed to yield results.

The excavations launched on Thursday at a different location were ordered following a detailed study of aerial footage of the area.

Meanwhile, investigations were also launched on Thursday at a site in Belacevac/Bellaqevc in Kosovo, believed to contain the bodies of 25 Serbs killed during the war.

“It is important to mention that Veljko Odalovic [President of the Serbian Assembly Board for Missing Persons] and investigative judge Milan Dilparic are present in Belacevac/Bellaqevc, where Serb victims are supposedly buried,” Vekaric added.

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