The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) explained that the identification of the exact location where the human remains were found in Serbia on Monday, was possible through aerial images from 1999.
The statement says that human remains were discovered in a large quarry site in Serbia, by experts from EULEX, the Kosovo Institute of Forensic Medicine, and the Serbian Government Commission on Missing Persons.
EULEX explains that experts have been carrying out excavations in Kizevak since 2015.
“After several unsuccessful excavation seasons in Kizevak, a breakthrough happened in 2020 thanks to the use of aerial images,” EULEX says.
“The problem was that these are large quarry sites and the landscape kept changing over time due to the fact that the quarry was still in use for a number of years,” said Javier Santana, EULEX’s forensic archeologist.
The International Committee of the Red Cross made the aerial images from 1999 available to the Kosovo Government Commission on Missing Persons and the Serbian Government Commission on Missing Persons at the end of 2019.
“We received aerial images in late 2019. Between late 2019 and early 2020, EULEX’s exhumation coordinator Krassimir Nikolov and I analyzed the photos. Based on our analysis we went back to the site in February 2020 and we pinpointed the exact location of the site. This is when the work started this year,” Santana said.
However, the work in Kizevak is far from over, says EULEX’s exhumation coordinator, Krassimir Nikolov.
“The process is very complicated and time-consuming. To be able to continue to work, there needs to be a court order. After that, the next step is to proceed with the exhumation and the recovery of the remains. Once the remains are recovered, an autopsy will be performed and bone samples will be taken for DNA profile testing,” he said.
Nikolov explained that in cases where relatives of a missing person have provided reference blood samples and there will be a positive DNA match report, the identification process is completed.
“Then, the families are informed about the identification and the remains of the missing are handed over to them,” Nikolov said.
1640 persons are still missing in Kosovo since the war was over in 1999.
The Deputy Head of Kosovo’s Institute of Forensic Medicine, Tarja Fromisto appealed to all missing persons’ relatives to provide blood samples to facilitate the identification process.