This primary mass grave is located on farmland owned by the Bimeks meat factory in the northern city of Brcko. It was exhumed in October 1996, when the remains of 78 war victims were found. The mass grave is located on the outskirts of the city, next to a main road, just across from the Serbian Orthodox cemetery. The location is unmarked.
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.
Court witnesses testified that the bodies of those who were killed were transported from the detention centres to mass graves using trucks from the local Bimeks 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 reburied in the Gorice secondary mass grave. Witnesses also said that a number of bodies were thrown into the River Sava. Cvjetko Ignic, who was police forensic expert and testified at the wartime Bosnian Serb police chiefs’ Stojan Zupljanin and Mico Stanisic’s trial, said that from May to July 1992, he identified more than 200 corpses, which were then buried in a mass grave near the Bimeks Farm on the outskirts of Brcko. Ignic said that the identities of 103 out of a total of 216 victims were established, including nine women. According to Ignic, “a huge percentage” were civilians and only a few corpses were in camouflage uniforms.
Two Bosnian Serb fighters, Goran Jelisic and Ranko Cesic, pleaded guilty to crimes in Brcko at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY.
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.
Djordje Ristanic, head of the Serb wartime leadership in Brcko, was cleared of participation in a joint criminal enterprise to persecute Bosniaks and Croats by the Bosnian state court in 2022.
The appeals court of the Brcko District sentenced Pero Rikanovic to five-and-a-half years in prison for war crimes against prisoners of war and civilians. Rikanovic participated in killings of civilians at the Luka prison camp who were subsequently buried at the Bimeks gravesite.