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Bosnia set to bury massacre victims
Thousands commemorate victims before burial of 613 recovered bodies on 16th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre.
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2011 20:09
Coffins of the 613 massacre victims were laid in rows on Sunday before the formal burial ceremony [AFP]

Thousands of Bosnians are commemorating the Srebrenica massacre by marching along the same route that was taken by Bosnian Muslims who tried to escape the atrocity in 1995.

They marched on Sunday from the city of Srebrenica to the village of Nezuk, about 110km north, where about 15,000 had fled to seeking safety at a UN base there from Bosnian Serb troops 16 years ago.

It comes as the bodies of 613 victims are set to be buried at the Potocari Memorial Centre in Srebrenica on Monday - the 16th anniversary of Europe's worst massacre since the second world war.

The dead were among over 8,00 Muslim men and boys from the eastern enclave who were systematically killed after Serbian forces besieged the town on 11 July 1995 in the climax to the 1992-95 Bosnian war that claimed a total of 100,000 lives.

Hundreds of people lined the capital Sarajevo's main street on Saturday as trucks carrying the remains of victims of the Srebrenica massacre passed through.

Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons, reporting from the Memorial Centre in Potocari, said moving scenes could be seen across Bosnia during the Saturday's procession.

"So it may be 16 years since this atrocity, but to those involved - loved ones, relatives - it could have been yesterday really," he said.

Whispered Muslim prayers got louder and mixed with sobbing when the three lorries appeared in Sarajevo, the capital, and drove towards the Bosnian Presidency building where they stopped for a few minutes.

Rosewater sprinkled

Some of the mourners tucked flowers into the canvas covering the lorries as they crawled down a street sprinkled with rosewater.

From there, the lorries drove to a warehouse in Srebrenica, where the coffins were laid in rows before Monday's formal burial ceremony - and where many of the victims' relatives came to grieve.

"And what theyre going to see on Monday is quite a long ceremony remembering the dead and also pointing out the fact that Ratko Mladic has to face justice for allegedly ordering the massacre," our correspondent said.

Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb leader is being tried at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslovia (ICC) on 11 war crime charges, including genocide, for allegedly masterminding atrocities during the Bosnian war.

Munira Subasic, who lost her husband, two brothers, and many men in her wider family in the 1995 massacre said that though the arrest of Mladic had brought some comfort, "there is no justice that can make any mother happy".

The remains of the 613 victims were recovered from mass graves during the past year and identified through DNA tests.

Forensic experts painstakingly assembled complete skeletons and checked each bone against the DNA from blood samples of survivors of the massacre.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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