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13 Bodies Turned Up in Nova Kasaba Grave

July 24, 1996 GMT

NOVA KASABA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Aided by U.S. spy photographs that revealed the mass graves to the world, war crimes investigators cleared away soil Tuesday from at least 13 bodies believed to be Muslims from nearby Srebrenica.

The hands of nine corpses were wired behind their backs, indicating they were executed, said William D. Haglund, a forensic anthropologist who leads the team. Local Serbs have asserted they killed only armed Muslim soldiers in battle.

Serb workers hired by the war crimes team said they feared punishment by local police if it was discovered they were aiding the investigators, who could use evidence uncovered here against Bosnian Serb leaders accused of genocide.

``I don’t want to be photographed. I don’t want my picture on television,″ said one worker, who would not give his name. ``I could be in danger if a policeman sees my face.″

The eight Serbs wore surgical masks Monday to hide their identities. On Tuesday, they donned masks only when working close to the reeking bodies.

Seven of the 13 bodies are new discoveries, while the other six were uncovered last month, then covered up again to preserve them until exhumation, which began Monday at the site.

According to U.S. officials, up to 2,700 murdered Muslims lie in mass graves in the wooded valley around Nova Kasaba. They are among some 7,000 missing since Bosnian Serb troops overran Srebrenica in July 1995, and presumed dead.

Investigators believe captured Muslims were lined up along an adjacent road, shot with automatic weapons, tossed into pits and covered with dirt.

The war crimes team used 1995 satellite photographs, which reveal areas where the soil has been disturbed, to locate Tuesday’s graves. The photos were shown to the U.N. Security Council in August.

At a grave they finished exhuming last week, Haglund’s team exposed 154 bodies, thought to be Srebrenica Muslims. The forensic team plans to excavate seven or eight suspected mass graves, all but one in Bosnia.