In September 2016 I had the privilege of leading a group of international forensic experts on behalf of Remembering Srebrenica (Scotland) who worked in Bosnia in the 1990s and early 2000s on behalf of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It was the 20th anniversary of the first deployments to investigate the Srebrenica genocide. Although all of the experts gathered evidence of unlawful killing from the victims from Srebrenica, some in addition had investigated the deaths of victims from all sides of the conflict from throughout Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.
The forensic experts included individuals from all of the disciplines involved in the work. Pathologists, Anthropologists, Forensic Technicians, Radiographers and Crime Scene Investigators. They group was made up of individuals from Scotland, England, Wales, Germany, South Africa and USA.
In addition to the ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ tour, the group were taken to the town of Visoko to attend the new Srebrenica memorial. From 1997 to 2001 the mortuary in the town was used to deal with thousands of the victims discovered in mass graves throughout Bosnia.
It was a very emotional visit for the group to return to the mortuary that holds so many sad stories. They also met again after many years, some of the families with whom they had lived during their deployments. Tears were shed.
The Mayor of Visoko held a reception for the group where she expressed her gratitude to all the experts who provided the evidence that has helped put the perpetrators (including Radovan Karadzic) behind bars.
This particular delegation, because of the confidential and sensitive nature of their work were sworn to secrecy during their deployments all those years ago. However, many of them felt so moved by the programme laid on by Remembering Srebrenica they feel that the time has now come when they can share their experiences and tell their stories.
This is important because after every genocide there follows denial. Reconciliation can never happen until we know what happened is accepted by those who would deny it. This group along with the many dozens of other experts from around the world who deployed to Bosnia bear witness to the humiliation and cruelty discovered on the remains of the victims.
They feel proud that they were able to help bring some dignity to the victims who are now at last laid to rest in Potocari. They hope that one day all of the victims will be found.
Robert McNeil,MBE, Forensic Technician.Oct 2016.