Exhumation of alleged mass grave begins in Kosovo

Grave is said to contain bodies of 25 Serbs kidnapped or killed in Kosovo.

Belgrade: The search for a mass grave in the village of Zilivode near the capital Pristina, said to contain the bodies of 25 Serbs kidnapped or killed in Kosovo, began under the supervision of both local and international observers, a media report said on Wednesday.

During the initial soil excavation, members of a joint Belgrade and Pristina commission on missing persons, members of the European Union mission (EULEX), Mladjan Djordjevic, advisor for Kosovo to the Serbian President, Veljko Odalovic, chairman of the state Commission on Missing Persons, Prenk Djetaj, chairman of the Kosovo Commission on Missing Persons and Arsim Grdzalija forensic expert with the Kosovo Ministry of Justice were at the scene on Tuesday, Xinhua reported.

The location of the alleged mass grave was disclosed during meetings with Kosovo and Serbian dialogue groups on missing persons. It is believed to contain the bodies of nine workers from the Belacevac strip mine kidnapped in 1998 along with the remains of other Serbs dumped at the site.

This is the second attempt to examine the location, after a landslide forced investigators to call off an earlier excavation.

"We need to work carefully, step by step, until we reach the depth of 25 metres. There was a landslide last time and we need to take care of our men," Djetaj said.

Kosovo authorities have also reportedly agreed to a request by Serbia to search for alleged mass graves sites in the Kosare area; however the area has yet to be cleared of landmines.