TOMASICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — The president of the U.N. war crimes trial for the former Yugoslavia said Monday that seeing what could be Bosnia's largest mass grave was like standing "face to face with horror."
Theodor Meron said during his visit to the Tomasica grave near the northwestern town of Prijedor that he hopes the perpetrators will face justice and that his tribunal will offer consolation to survivors and victims' families.
The remains of 430 victims of Serb ethnic killings during the region's 1990s war have been excavated since the grave was found in September. Experts say they expect to remove hundreds more.
Many of the ethnic Bosniak and Croat victims were killed in one of three concentration camps set up nearby by Serb authorities. Others were killed during house-to-house searches or brought to the site alive to be executed at Tomasica.
Their remains will be identified through DNA analysis and returned to their families.
The grave stretches over 5,000 square meters (53,820 sq. feet) and is 10 meters (about 30 feet) deep.
For Meron, a Holocaust survivor from Kalisz, Poland, the visit was a painful experience.
"This place has a very, very special resonance to me personally because it looks little bit like the place in Kalisz ... where my mother was killed. So it means to me more than just international law," he said.
"It is very difficult for me to speak at this place, where one stands face to face with the horror a man can do to another man," he said.
Authorities hope that many of the 1,200 still missing people from the area will be found in Tomasica.
The area of Prijedor was a site of severe crimes against humanity committed by Christian Orthodox Serbs against Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats.
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- Theodor Meron