The remains of 27 people, believed to be Kosovo Albanians killed by Belgrade’s forces during the 1990s war, were exhumed from a quarry near the south Serbian town of Raska.
“So far the remains of about 27 bodies can be identified, but the number can change at any time,” Prenk Gjetaj, the head of the Kosovo government’s missing persons commission, told BIRN on Friday.
Gjetaj said that forensic experts would continue the search for the buried bodies of victims killed in the 1998-99 conflict, which started in December last year at the quarry in the village of Rudnica, near Raska.
DNA tests have revealed that all the bodies found so far are those of Kosovo Albanians who died during the conflict.
The Serbian commission for missing persons said that the process of identification was continuing, and that the names of the victims will not be made public until the process is over and relatives have been informed.
It also said that the forensic experts were widening their search around Rudnica, because they believe that more bodies could be discovered.
Besides the Serbian authorities, who are in charge of the exhumation, teams from the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, the Red Cross, the International Commission for Missing Persons and the Kosovo missing persons commission are also taking part in the search.
Relatives of those whose remains have been found can ask permission to visit the site, but are not allowed to disclose any information about it.
“We cannot send family members of the missing to the suspected mass grave every day, but the relatives can ask the council of associations for missing persons and we can take them there from time to time. This depends on the interest of the relatives,” Gjetaj said.
The area was first probed in 2010, after the Serbian war crimes prosecution, in cooperation with the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, announced that there could be a mass grave in Raska containing the bodies of at least 250 Albanians, although nothing was found until last year.
There are still around 1,700 people listed as missing as a result of the Kosovo conflict.