Slap 1

A mass grave was discovered in 2000 on the banks of the River Drina in the village of Slap, four kilometres from the town of Zepa and 50 kilometres from the city of Visegrad.

A total of 124 bodies and one body part were discovered at the site, which was exhumed in October 2000 by the Bosnian Missing Persons Commission and named Slap 1. A second grave, named Slap 2, was found a few kilometres downstream, where a further seven bodies were buried. To this day a total of 119 people were identified. 

Information about the location of the gravesite was given by one of the local Bosniak men who buried the bodies, which were retrieved from the River Drina after they floated downstream from the direction of Visegrad.

From mid-May 1992 to 1995, local residents in Slap saw hundreds of bodies floating down the river from the direction of Visegrad. In order to retrieve the bodies, they usually used rowing boats to pull them to the riverbank. One of the local men, Mevsud Poljo, told the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY that he buried more than 150 bodies on the riverbank.

Before burying the bodies, locals would search for any identification documents and write down the description of the victims’ clothes and other details. When they first started to discover the bodies, they would contact the local police in the town of Rogatica and a forensic team would come and inspect the bodies. Later on, as the war progressed, with electricity and telephone lines not working, it was not possible to inform the police any more. Bodies that were deemed to have decomposed too much to retrieve were left in the river. 

Autopsies conducted by the International Commission on Missing Persons confirmed that in most of the cases, the cause of death was gunshots. Eighty-seven per cent of the bodies were Bosniak men, with a smaller proportion of women. The majority were aged between 30 and 60, but one victim was a child who was between seven and 12 years old at the time of death. In a number of cases, ligatures were found with the bodies. Many of the bodies had blunt force traumas – injuries caused by beating before death. 

Today the Slap 1 gravesite is marked with a memorial plaque which was installed by the local community.

Each year in June, victims’ families and missing persons associations commemorate the wartime killings of 3,000 people in the Visegrad area with a ceremony at which they throw roses into the River Drina. 

Nineteen people have so far been convicted of committing war crimes in the Visegrad area by the ICTY, the Bosnian state court and the Sarajevo Cantonal Court. Of these 19 war criminals, nine were convicted of rape and sexual abuse. A further 12 suspects are currently on trial at the Bosnian state court, and five more at Belgrade Higher Court in Serbia.

Those who have been convicted have so far were given a total of 246 years in prison, while Milan Lukic, who was the leader of the White Eagles or Avengers, a Bosnian Serb paramilitary group, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the ICTY for participating in the murders and expulsions of Bosniak civilians in Visegrad in 1992 and 1993. The Bosnian prosecution has subsequently charged Lukic with crimes against passengers kidnapped from a train at Strpci railway station in February 1993 and then killed.

According to the Bosnian Missing Persons Institute, 920 people went missing from the Visegrad area during the war, and the remains of 445 of them have been found and identified so far.


There are a series of graves of war victims in the village of Kevljani, 15 kilometres from the city of Prijedor in north-west Bosnia and Herzegovina. Investigators from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY found and exhumed the grave sites from May 25 to and June 15, 1999. One of the graves was discovered in a meadow next to a largely-destroyed mosque and a Muslim cemetery.

Kevljani is five kilometres from the Omarska iron ore mine, which was the site of a Bosnian Serb-run detention camp. Many people who were held between May and August 1992 at Omarska and at a nearby Bosnian Serb-run detention camp, Keraterm, were reported missing.

Investigators established that one of the sites at which former Omarska camp detainees who disappeared were buried was Kevljani. Evidence found at the site, such as traces left by excavators, indicated that the graves had been dug up again in order to rebury the bodies elsewhere.

Some of the bodies had been dismembered when they were dug up, leaving isolated bone parts. The exhumation team discovered 72 complete or nearly complete bodies in 15 different graves. Expert analysis of soil and building materials confirmed a connection with the Omarska camp.

Today the gravesite is marked with a memorial plaque in front of the mosque, next to the destroyed minaret. The text on the plaque says: “At this site, a mass grave with 146 bodies of innocent victims was found. Two hundred metres away is Stari Kevljani, the largest mass grave found in Bosanska Krajina, with 456 victims from the Prijedor municipality.”

A witness at the trial of Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic trial testified that torture and killings happened daily in the Omarska camp. Up to 6,000 people were held at camp while it was open for a period of three months in 1992. Mass executions also started at the end of July 1992. Detainees were forced to clean the areas where people were killed and load their bodies onto trucks to be taken away.

The camp was closed on August 21, 1992 after visiting British journalists exposed the inhumane conditions and war crimes in the camp. The detainees were then transferred to other camps in the area. According to the Regional Union of Associations of Detainees from the Banja Luka Region, around 700 people held at the Omarska camp died, although not all of them were killed inside the camp itself.

The ICTY has convicted 11 people of committing crimes at detention camps in the Prijedor area, and the Bosnian state court has convicted four more. Zeljko Mejakic, the highest-ranking official at the Omarska detention camp, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for crimes against humanity.

Prijedor is the area with the largest number of convicted war criminals in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A total of 37 Bosnian Serbs have been found guilty of committing crimes in the area and have been sentenced to a total of 617 years in prison. The ICTY gave Milomir Stakic, wartime president of the Serb-controlled Prijedor municipality Crisis Staff, the highest sentence for crimes in Prijedor – 40 years in prison.



The mass grave in the Gorice neighbourhood of the Bosnian city of Brcko was found in 2006 and it is the largest clandestine gravesite in the area. The Gorice mass grave contained 277 human remains, according to the International Commission on Missing Persons. So far, 136 individuals have been identified from the remains that were exhumed. 

The Gorice gravesite is located some ten kilometres north of the city, right on the banks of the River Sava. It is an abandoned field, marked with one plaque put up by locals, which says that remains of the Bosniaks and Croats killed in the area from 1992 to 1995 were found at the location. 

It is a secondary grave, and was dug by Bosnian Serb forces in order to conceal the bodies of those killed around the Brcko area at the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and initially buried elsewhere. According to forensic reports, the mass grave was four metres deep.

From April 1992, Bosnian Serb forces fought to gain control over Brcko, which lies near the border with Croatia. With the assistance of local Serb authorities, Bosnian Serb troops expelled Croat and Bosniak residents from their homes and held them at detention centres where many were killed, tortured, beaten or otherwise mistreated.

Captives were illegally detained and abused at the Brcko police building, the local hospital, the Luka prison camp, the former Partizan sports building, and the Yugoslav People’s Army barracks. The crimes were committed by members of military, police and paramilitary forces.

Some of the executions were filmed by foreign journalists and caused worldwide condemnation. After that, the cover-up operation to hide victims’ bodies started.

Many court witnesses said that the bodies of those killed were transported from the detention centres to mass graves using trucks from the local Bimes meat factory. Near the factory, according to several witnesses, there was a primary mass grave used to dump the bodies during the early years of the war. Later, as the bodies started to pile up, they were dug up and re-buried in Gorice. Many witnesses also said a number of bodies were thrown into the River Sava.

Two Bosnian Serb fighters, Goran Jelisic and Ranko Cesic, pleaded guilty to crimes in Brcko at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. 

Jelisic, who described himself as the ‘Serbian Adolf’, was a senior guard at the Luka detention camp. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, and the Hague court’s verdict described his behaviour as “repugnant, bestial and sadistic”. Cesic, who was a police officer, was sentenced to 18 years for murder and rape. 

At the Bosnian state court, there is also an ongoing case against Djordje Ristanic, who was president of the Brcko wartime presidency and is charged with taking part in a joint criminal enterprise to persecute Bosniak and Croat civilians in the area from April to December 1992.

Ristanic is also charged with the rape and sexual abuse of both men and women at detention centres in Brcko and with the destruction of mosques in the area.

Laniste 1

Laniste 1 is a primary mass grave located in a mountainous area 14 kilometres from the town of Kljuc in north-western Bosnia and Herzegovina. The exhumation process started at the site in October 1996, and the remains of 188 people were found, from which 170 were identified. 

An underground cave called Bezdana at the Laniste site was used for the disposal of war victims’ bodies after they were killed in July 1992. The cave is located by a road in a wooded area and is over 20 meters below ground. A mountain lodge near the cave had been used by Serb paramilitary units as a base since the start of 1992.

Troops from the 17th Light Infantry Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, assisted by police officers and police reservists, attacked the village of Biljani in the Kljuc municipality on July 10, 1992 and killed more than 200 Bosniak men, women, children and elderly people. Men were also taken to a primary school in the village, where they were imprisoned and then taken out and killed. One group of men was first tortured and then taken to the Laniste site, where the killings continued.

The bodies of the murdered Bosniaks from Biljani were found in four mass graves including Laniste 1, as well as in several smaller graves containing a few people and in individual graves. Most of the graves were located ten kilometres or more away from Biljani. 

The oldest victim found at the Laniste 1 site was Beco Cehic, 85, and the youngest was a four-month-old baby, Amila Dzaferagic, who died holding a milk bottle, in the arms of her murdered mother. The bodies of 20 minors were exhumed, seven of them under the age of ten.

Evidence of the killings found at the Laniste 1 site included traces from bullets on the surrounding trees next to the underground cave into which the victims’ bodies were subsequently thrown. 

The location of the mass grave is marked with a memorial plaque and the underground cave has been fenced off and covered, but it is still possible to look inside and see how deep it is. 

The Bosnian state court sentenced Marko Samardzija, commander of the Third Company of the Sanica Battalion with the 17th Light Infantry Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, to seven years in prison for crimes committed in the Kljuc area, including the attack on Biljani. Former Bosnian Serb soldier Bosko Devic was sentenced to ten years in prison by the Bosnian state court for crimes in Kljuc, while the case against another Bosnian Serb ex-soldier, Mladjen Kovacevic, is at a standstill due to his poor health.

The Bosnian state court also sentenced former Bosnian Serb soldiers Marko Adamovic to 20 years in prison and Bosko Lukic to 12 years for participating in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at persecuting the non-Serb population in the Kljuc area during the summer of 1992, including the attack on Biljani.

Proceedings against several other suspects have been suspended due to their deaths, or are at a standstill because the suspects are unavailable to the Bosnian judicial authorities.



The Ogradice mass grave was discovered in 2003, some 20 kilometres from the town of Vlasenica in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Lying up in the hills, at the end of an often inaccessible road and in a deep forest, the mass grave remains unmarked. 

Forensic teams identified 155 bodies that were found at the gravesite, most of them Bosniak victims of crimes committed in the Vlasenica area in 1992 and 1993. 

According to the University of Sarajevo Institute for Researching Crimes against Humanity and International Law, a total of 12 mass graves have been found in the Vlasnica municipality containing victims of violence in 1992 and 1993. A total of 436 bodies were discovered at these locations, 232 of them at the Ogradice grave. 

Killings, torture and rape in Vlasenica were the subject of one of the first cases at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, where Dragan Nikolic, who commanded the infamous detention camp Susica in the town, was the first indictee in 1994. 

Nikolic pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for crimes against humanity that included persecution on political, racial and religious grounds, murder, sexual violence and torture at Susica. Many of the Susica victims were found in the Ogradice mass grave. 

Nikolic, alias Jenki, subjected Bosniaks and other non-Serb detainees to murder, rape and torture and participated in creating and maintaining an atmosphere of terror in the camp, the verdict found.

Nikolic punched, kicked and beat the detainees with weapons such as wooden bats, iron bars, axe handles, rifle butts, metal knuckles, metal pipes, truncheons and rubber tubing with lead inside. The injuries inflicted during the beatings were sometimes fatal. 

He also personally removed and facilitated the removal of female detainees from the hangar where they were interned, in the knowledge that they were being taken away to be raped or sexually abused. He told the UN court that he felt “shame and disgrace” about what he did.

Between late May and October 1992, as many as 8,000 Bosniak civilians and other non-Serbs from Vlasenica and the surrounding villages had been detained at the Susica camp. The building was severely overcrowded and living conditions were deplorable. 

Survivors and families of the Susica victims organise an annual commemorative march from the village of Turajlici to the mass graves at Ogradice and Debelo Brdo, ending in front of the former camp.