Cerska is a primary grave in the Cerska Valley on the main road from Konjevic Polje to Nova Kasaba, 27 kilometres north-west of the town of Srebrenica. It was discovered and exhumed in July 1996 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY as it collected evidence relating to the Srebrenica genocide by documenting injuries, identifying the times and causes of death of the victims and corroborating witness testimonies.The identification process was led by the Federal Commission for Missing Persons (later known as the Missing Persons Institute).
The grave was undisturbed and contained 150 remains of male victims of ages estimated to range from 14 to 50 years at the time of death. One witness to the killings said that on July 13, 1995, three buses full of male prisoners were seen being driven along the road in the direction of the Cerska valley, followed by an armoured personnel carrier. Shortly afterwards, intensive shooting was heard and a digger was then seen entering the walley.
The Cerska mass grave was identified in July 1995 using aerial images of an embankment on the south-west side of the road. The aerial images show there were no signs of disturbed earth at the site before July 7, 1995, but footage captured on July 27 shows a new mound of earth has appeared, indicating digging at the site.
The location of the mass grave, next to the road and a few houses in the village of Macesi, around four kilometres from Konjevic Polje, remains unmarked.
The evidence found at the site indicated that the victims’ wrists were bound behind their backs with wire ligatures. It appeared from the location of shell casings that they were placed on the roadside while their executioners stood across the road. Soil from the north-east side of the road was used to cover the bodies where they fell.
Of the 150 victims, only one was not killed by gunshots. The hands of 24 victims were tied, and many more lengths of wire were found near other remains. A total of 147 of the victims were dressed in civilian clothing. ICTY investigators collected approximately 189 shell casings from the surface of the ground at the site and 67 more were discovered during the exhumation and autopsy process.
Expert witness Dusan Janc at the Radovan Karadzic trial explained that the Cerska gravesite contained not only victims from Kravica warehouse where more than 1300 Bosniaks from Srebrenica were killed, but also victims from the Bratunac school building and bodies of people, who were killed alongside the main road leading to Bratunac.
A protected ICTY witness codenamed Witness M’s eyewitness account of the crime, which said that buses followed by an earth loader drove up the Cerska Valley road into a wooded area, roughly corresponds in time to intercepted communications on July 13, 1995 in which Colonel Milanovic, the Chief of Anti-Aircraft Defence of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Drina Corps, asked for engineering equipment to be sent to Konjevic Polje.
The ICTY’s trial chamber in the case against the Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Drina Corps, Radoslav Krstic, did not consider the evidence and this account sufficient to implicate the Drina Corps in the Cerska Valley executions on July 13.
Krstic however was found guilty of genocide in the first ICTY verdict to establish that genocide was committed against Bosniaks from Srebrenica. He was sentenced to 46 years in prison, although the sentence was subsequently shortened to 35 years.