The new evidence found at Sahanici could increase pressure on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who says he was unaware of the massacres, to oust his erstwhile allies, Mladic and Karadzic. The future of the two indicted war criminals is a key issue in US-led talks in Ohio aimed at a comprehensive peace in the Balkans.
The new evidence found in Sahanici also may give the US added leverage to force Mr. Milosevic to finally come through on long-running promises to grant war crimes investigators access to mass graves around Srebrenica. Since the peace talks began, Milosevic has twice promised to grant free access to the sites, but failed to deliver.
But time may be running out. US intelligence officials announced last week that the Bosnian Serbs have already tried to destroy evidence at one of the mass graves last month and could be tampering with others now.
The US has had the photographic evidence of six graves around Srebrenica since late July and US agents may have visited the sites to confirm that they are not the result of agriculture or construction work, according to intelligence officials. US officials estimate that six graves are large enough to hold up to 2,700 bodies.
The Bosnian Serb authorities have repeatedly refused to grant the UN, tribunal investigators, and journalists free access to the area around Srebrenica since the enclave fell. Using pinpoint locations obtained from US-based intelligence sources, the Monitor visited the Sahanici area for three hours on Oct. 29 without the permission of Bosnian Serb authorities.
This correspondent changed the date of issue on a Bosnian Serb press accreditation from 19/12/94 to 29/10/95 and used it to pass through Bosnian Serb checkpoints and reach the area. This correspondent was arrested at the execution site by Bosnian Serb police, stripped of all documents and photos taken of the area, accused of espionage, and jailed for 10 days.
Up to now, reports of the massacres have been primarily based on survivor accounts that could not be independently confirmed. But the evidence found in the Sahanici area corroborates the accounts of five Muslim men who say they survived the execution of as many as 2,000 men from Srebrenica.