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.