The Budak 1 mass grave is located in the village of Potocari, six kilometres north-west of the town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia. The grave was exhumed in July 2005 by the Bosnian Federal Commission on Missing Persons, monitored by the International Commission on Missing Persons.
This secondary mass grave is located within an existing Muslim graveyard in Potocari. The exhumation yielded the remains of 54 people, most of them killed during the Srebrenica genocide in July 1995.
The remains that were found, DNA samples and other evidence, including soil and pollen samples, as well as shell casings in mass graves and at execution sites, proved the connection between this secondary grave and the primary mass grave Glogova 1.
Glogova 1 initially contained many more remains, but in a subsequent cover-up operation by Bosnian Serb forces in the autumn of 1995, bodies were transported from there to other burial locations, including Budak 1, according to the Bosnian Missing Persons Institute. The operation to conceal the crimes was described by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY as “an organised and comprehensive effort… to hide the executions by exhuming the bodies from primary mass graves and reburying them in secondary graves”.
Based on DNA connections, the ICTY established that the secondary mass graves in the Potocari area are not only linked to the primary mass graves, but are also interlinked at various levels. In the case of the Budak 1 gravesite, the remains of several individuals found there were also found in other graves besides the primary site at Glogova 1: Budak 2, Zeleni Jadar 4, Zeleni Jadar 5 and Zeleni Jadar 6.
ICTY forensic teams also established that some of the remains found in the Budak 1 mass grave were victims who were shot at a farm in Kravica, where on July 13, 1995, Bosnian Serb soldiers executed 1,313 Bosniak men from Srebrenica. Automatic weapons, hand grenades, and other weapons were used to kill the men inside the warehouse.
Today, there is still a Muslim cemetery at the Budak 1 location, as well as a memorial plaque in honour of the victims found in the mass grave. In 2011, a few dozen metres away from the Budak 1 and Budak 2 gravesites, local Serbs started building an Orthodox church. This created tensions with the local Bosniak population, but the church was built and consecrated three years later.
So far, the ICTY and domestic courts in the Balkans have sentenced a total of 47 people to more than 700 years in prison, plus five life sentences, for Srebrenica crimes.