Human remains found in suspected mass grave in Serbia

Forensic experts have discovered human remains in a suspected mass grave in Serbia, believed to contain the bodies of Kosovo Albanians killed during the 1998-1999 war, officials said Friday.

"During the site assessment at the Rudnica quarry in the municipality of Raska, Serbia," Serbian authorities, EU-led justice and police mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and Pristina's forensic experts "discovered human remains," EULEX said in a statement.

"The work will continue, in coordination with Serbian authorities, in the upcoming days," the statement said.

The site has been searched over three years, since Serbia's war crime prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic announced in May 2010 that his team and EULEX had uncovered the grave there.

At the time Vukcevic told AFP it was believed that the grave contains the bodies of some 250 Kosovo Albanians and that it could be the largest mass grave found in Serbia.

It is one of the sites where forces under then-strongman Slobodan Milosevic moved civilian remains from Kosovo at the end of the war and reburied them in Serbia in a bid to hide war crimes.

More than 800 bodies of Kosovo Albanians were exhumed from three mass grave uncovered throughout Serbia in 2001.

Serbia's wartime deputy interior minister Rodoljub Djordjevic, sentenced by the Hague-based UN war crimes court for war crimes committed in Kosovo to 27 years imprisonment, is believed to have ordered the removal of killed Kosovo Albanians and their reburial in mass graves in Serbia.

Vukcevic told NIN weekly on Thursday that the fresh evidence revealed Djordjevic had also ordered the murder of three US nationals of Kosovar origin whose remains were excavated from a site in a Serbian special police base along with those of 71 other people.

The three nationals were identified as brothers Yili, Mehmet and Argon Bytyqi, who were arrested by Serbian police in a village bordering Kosovo in July 1999, a month after the end of war, and transferred to the police base, where they were killed.

Serbia has been under mounting US pressure to solve the Bytyqi case.

More than 1,700 people are still unaccounted for from the Kosovo war. More than 1,000 are ethnic Albanians.

The conflict in Kosovo claimed the lives of around 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians. The war ended after a NATO bombing campaign in 1999 ousted Serb forces from the province, which was then put under UN administration.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, a move recognised by the United States and most EU member states but not by Belgrade.