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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 24 November 2020

Bodies of suspected WW2 victims exhumed from mass grave in Croatia

The victims were thought to have been cadets in a Croatian military academy.

Image: Virginia Mayo/AP

AUTHORITIES HAVE EXHUMED the remains of 30 people executed at the end of World War II who were found in a mass grave near the capital of Croatia.

The victims were believed to be cadets of a military academy run by pro-Nazi Croatia’s regime during the war.

“The grave was quite shallow, some bones were found only 35 centimetres below the ground,” the national bureau charged with searching for communist-era victims said in a statement.

The remains were found in a grave in the forest region of Gracani, north of the capital Zagreb, while the victims were probably executed in May 1945, it added.

“Irrefutable evidence of execution” were also found in the grave, notably a large amount of bullets and cartridges, the statement said. Several skulls had traces of bullet holes, while some of the victims had their hands tied up with metal wire, it added.

In July, 36 victims of the communist regime were found in another grave found in the same area.

During the war, hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Romas and Jews were killed by Croatia’s pro-Nazi regime, which was eventually defeated by Yugoslav partisans led by communist leader Josip Broz Tito.

According to the bureau, an institution established last year by Croatia’s parliament, some 600 graves with around 90,000 victims of the communist regime are scattered around the country – a figure that has been dismissed as “manipulation” by a group representing former anti-fascist fighters.

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