Genocide in Bosnia

Bosnian Genocide, 1992-1995

American Spy Photos Show Bosnian Genocide Mass Grave: 2,700 Bosnian Muslims believed to be executed

Toledo Blade
11 August 1995.

UNITED NATIONS — The U.S. ambassador showed spy photographs to the Security Council yesterday, saying they were strong evidence that Bosnian Serb rebels executed as many as 2,700 Muslim civilians last month.

The eight high-altitude photos of what appeared to be mass graves, along with witness accounts, are a “compelling case that there were wide-scale atrocities committed … against defenseless civilians,” Ambassador Madeleine Albright said.

“There were high-level Bosnian Serb military people present,” Ms. Albright said. “This is clearly a case that needs to be investigated further by the [U.N.] war crimes tribunal.”

About 6,000 men and boys remain unaccounted for after Bosnian Serb rebels captured the U.N.-declared “safe areas” of Srebrenica and Zepa in eastern Bosnia last month. The battle triggered a flood of Bosnian Muslim refugees from the two towns.

A 63-year-old Bosnian refugee told a team led by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck that Gen. Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader, had promised safety to a group of refugees being held at a soccer field, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But men and boys were later loaded onto trucks and driven to a site half mile from the soccer field, where they were lined up in groups of 20 to 25 and machine-gunned, the official said.

The Bosnian man, who wasn’t identified, said he fell as the shooting started and was shielded by corpses, the official said. The refugee hid for hours and later made his way to territory held by the Muslim-led government.

A U.S. photograph of the area outside of Srebrenica where the man says the killings took place showed four large patches of earth that had been disturbed. Tracks from heavy vehicles led to the patches.

Photographs of the area a day or two earlier shower the site without the disturbed earth, the official said.

Ms. Albright addressed the council as it considered a draft resolution warning that ‘those who commit violations of international humanitarian law will be held individual responsible.”

The evidence gathered by the United States will be passed on to the U.N. tribunal investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.

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