Viewing cable 06PRISTINA608
Title: KOSOVO MISSING PERSONS FORENSICS HAMPERED BY LACK

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06PRISTINA6082006-07-19 18:00:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Pristina
VZCZCXRO5052
OO RUEHAST
DE RUEHPS #0608/01 2001800
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191800Z JUL 06
FM USOFFICE PRISTINA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6317
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0769
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHFMIUU/AFSOUTH NAPLES IT
RHMFIUU/CDR TF FALCON
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEPGEA/CDR650THMIGP SHAPE BE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUFOANA/USNIC PRISTINA SR
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 PRISTINA 000608 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR DRL, INL, EUR/SCE 
NSC FOR BRAUN 
USUN FOR DREW SCHUFLETOWSKI 
EUR/ACE FOR DROGERS, MOKEEFE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL KCRM PGOV PINR KDEM UNMIK YI KJUS EAID
ICTY 
SUBJECT: KOSOVO MISSING PERSONS FORENSICS HAMPERED BY LACK 
OF FUNDING 
 
REF: A. PRISTINA 584 
     ¶B. PRISTINA 480 
     ¶C. PRISTINA 265 
 
PRISTINA 00000608  001.2 OF 004 
 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PROTECT ACCORDINGLY 
 
¶1.  (SBU) SUMMARY.  UNMIK's Office of Missing Persons and 
Forensics (OMPF) is faces severe staffing and funding 
shortages which are hampering its ability to resolve cases of 
missing persons.  Despite fewer leads on potential new grave 
sites, OMPF is still very busy with a few ongoing exhumations 
and dealing with remains returned from Serbia on June 30. 
OMPF will soon bring in an additional short-term forensics 
pathologist, in the hope that money requested from 
international donors will materialize.  END SUMMARY. 
 
OMPF URGENTLY NEEDS A SHORT-TERM FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
¶2.  (SBU) During a July 12 visit to the Office of Missing 
Persons and Forensics morgue in Rahovec/Orahovac, Acting OMPF 
Director Valerie Brasey told PolOff that OMPF will use 
remaining USG funding from 2005 to hire an additional 
forensic pathologist on a short-term (several months) 
contract to perform autopsies, write autopsy reports, 
determine causes of death and issue death certificates on the 
140 - 150 bodies repatriated from Serbia on June 30 (Ref A). 
She said OMPF's one local and two international forensic 
pathologists are over-stretched, because in addition to their 
work on repatriated bodies (the condition of which she 
described as "a mess"), they must also handle fresh death 
cases, sexual assaults, testify in court, train local staff 
and assist with exhumations.  She said that if there is an 
exhumation or one of the doctors is called to testify in 
court (as frequently happens), the work on the repatriated 
bodies must halt, which further delays their identification 
and return to families.  She said OMPF has requested 
assistance from the UK government, but said that even if that 
funding is approved, it will not arrive for at least several 
months. 
 
REMAINS FROM SERBIA NOT EXHUMED PROFESSIONALLY 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶3.  (SBU) OMPF forensic anthropologist Oran Finegan said the 
condition of the remains repatriated on June 30 shows that 
the Serbian government did not conduct the exhumations 
professionally.  As a result many of the skeletons are 
commingled.  He told PolOff that usually two forensic 
anthropologists and two forensic pathologists would work 
together on a team to do the type of painstaking work he is 
currently doing with the bodies repatriated from Serbia.  He 
said he must reconstruct each individual skeleton to 
determine which bones go to which body, and separate those 
that have been identified from those that have not.  He said 
he x-rays each body for bullet fragments, finds and analyzes 
bullet entry and exit points and reconstructs bone fractures 
to identify injuries to the body.  He said the vast majority 
of the bodies from Serbia have bullet wounds and evidence of 
blunt force trauma. 
 
¶4.  (SBU)  Finegan said Serbian officials sent bone samples 
from many, but not all, of the repatriated bodies to the 
International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) in 
Sarajevo for DNA extraction, analysis and identification.  He 
is now working to ascertain which are which, and said he has 
so far sent 8 or 9 additional bone samples to ICMP for 
analysis. 
 
¶5.  (SBU) Finegan said many of the bags contain assorted 
parts that he now needs to try and match to either bodies 
that have already been identified and returned to their 
families, or to any of the over 500 unidentified bodies OMPF 
 
PRISTINA 00000608  002.2 OF 004 
 
 
is already holding in six refrigerated storage containers 
outside the morgue.  (NOTE.  Finegan said that the 
refrigeration is not strong enough to keep the bodies from 
decomposing, since the decomposition process generates its 
own heat.  END NOTE)  Brasey said one of the bags Serbia 
returned contained as many as 14 identified right femurs that 
could match bodies OMPF already previously identified and 
returned to families or is holding in the morgue at the their 
request. 
 
NO POINT TO EXHUMATIONS WITHOUT FORENSICS WORK 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶6.  (SBU) Finegan and Brasey both said that the forensic work 
is an integral part of the exhumation process, since there is 
no point in exhuming bodies if they cannot then do the work 
necessary to identify the bodies and return them to their 
families.  Finegan said that while he can put the bodies back 
together, he is not legally qualified to write autopsy 
reports, make a final determination on cause of death, and 
sign death certificates.  He said only a forensic pathologist 
can carry out those functions. 
 
¶7.  (SBU) Brasey said that OMPF has a forensic pathologist on 
standby in Sri Lanka, ready to come for two to three months 
(Ref B).  She said that OMPF pays forensic pathologists 4,000 
euros per month (which, she added, is one quarter of what 
they make in Europe).  She said that OMPF already has 
salaries budgeted for Finegan and the forensic photographer 
through October out of the USG funding they have already 
received.  Finegan added that although he has worked for OMPF 
since 2002 (and previously for the ICTY), he is planning to 
leave Kosovo when his current contract expires in October, 
and he cited uncertainty about funding as one of the reasons 
for his departure. 
 
OMPF WORKING TO RETURN REMAINS TO FAMILIES 
------------------------------------------ 
 
¶8.  (SBU) Brasey said OMPF's first priority is to return 
those 16 bodies (eleven from mass graves in Batajnica and 
five from Perucac) that were already identified while in 
Serbia to their families.  She said OMPF has prepared the 
death certificates, autopsy reports and certificates of 
identification and "neutral" DNA match reports (per ICMP 
specifications), which will be given to the family along with 
the remains.  She said the outreach team is currently in the 
process of notifying the relevant family member associations 
in Vushtrri/Vucitern, Gjakova and Meja in order to arrange 
handovers. 
 
BACKLOG OF UNIDENTIFIED REMAINS HELD IN STORAGE 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
¶9.  (SBU) Brasey said the ICMP has processed all of the bone 
samples that the Serbian government sent to them, but only 
about 30 of them (16 sets of remains plus 14 femurs) 
generated identification "matches" and the rest ICMP returned 
as "unmatchable."  She said OMPF does not have a clear 
understanding of what that means, but thinks it means that 
either the bone sample did not match any of the blood samples 
in the database, or it did not reach ICMP's minimum 
"threshold" of probability, which is 99.99%.  Brasey (a 
mathematician by training) said that if only one family 
member gave a blood sample to ICMP, it is technically 
impossible for a bone sample to match the blood at the 99.99% 
threshold.  She lamented that OMPF probably has bodies in 
storage that fit that category, and could be identified and 
returned to their families if the threshold could be lowered. 
 Brasey said OMPF is trying to clarify these issues with ICMP 
at the sub-working group level (Ref C). 
 
¶10.  (SBU) Brasey said that OMPF continues to receive a slow 
 
PRISTINA 00000608  003.2 OF 004 
 
 
but steady trickle of DNA match reports from ICMP that 
provide DNA identifications for some of the bodies OMPF 
already had in storage (pre-dating the latest repatriation). 
She showed PolOff a random sample of the most recent batch of 
DNA match reports that OMPF has gotten back from ICMP, and 
the three reports showed that OMPF had submitted the bone 
samples to ICMP in December 2003, November 2002 and October 
¶2003.  She said she did not understand what criteria ICMP 
uses to determine which samples are tested first, or why it 
takes so long to get the results. 
 
¶11.  (SBU) She said that OMPF is currently processing the 
approximately 50 match reports that OMPF received from ICMP 
in the past month.  She said that every match must be 
analyzed by the OMPF forensic anthropologist assigned to 
identifications, who compares the report to the post-mortem, 
ante-mortem, and forensic autopsy reports in order to issue 
an identification certificate.  Once he certifies the 
identification, the outreach division of OMPF approaches the 
family members through the family associations to organize a 
handover of the remains. 
 
OMPF CONTINUES WITH EXHUMATIONS 
------------------------------- 
 
¶12.  (SBU) Despite a shortage of leads on locations of 
possible gravesites, OMPF continues to conduct exhumations. 
Brasey said they have solid leads on an gravesite in the 
Raska region of Serbia, along the administrative boundary 
line buffer zone across from Leposavic, and said OMPF plans a 
joint preliminary assessment of the site with Serbian 
authorities on July 28.  She said they also have several 
small sites that are ready for exhumation, but OMPF is too 
busy right now dealing with the repatriated bodies to be able 
to deal with them.  Brasey provided PolOff with OMPF reports 
on two recent exhumations, showing that OMPF exhumed a Kosovo 
Serb in Dojnice village in Prizren on May 12, and some 
remains suspected to be from Kosovo Albanians the village of 
Shushice, outside Gracanica in January 2006. 
 
¶13.  (SBU) On June 26 OMPF exhumed two sites adjacent to the 
cemetery on Dragodan Hill (close to USOP), but found no human 
remains.  OMPF Forensic Anthropologist Oran Finegan told 
PolOff that several sources have verified that 12 Kosovo 
Serbs from Pristina are buried in the vicinity of the 
cemetery, but so far several exhumations have failed to 
pinpoint the location.  Nikolov told PolOff OMPF discovers 
human remains at approximately 50% of its exhumations. 
 
RE-EXHUMATIONS NEEDED FOR DEATH CERTIFICATES 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
¶14.  (SBU) Finegan said that OMPF is also assisting Kosovo 
Albanian family members who request re-exhumations and 
autopsies of conflict victims who were buried immediately 
after the war without concrete identification and for whom no 
death certificates were issued.  He said that the families 
need death certificates to sell property and to obtain war 
victim's benefits. 
 
¶15.  (SBU) COMMENT.  Despite a shortage of new leads, OMPF is 
very busy making slow but steady progress on resolving 
missing persons cases.  However, exhuming the bodies is only 
the first step.  The bodies must be identified and returned 
to their families, and this requires intensive advanced 
forensics work.  Without that work, the backlog of over 500 
unidentified bodies being held at the morgue continues to 
grow, which only serves to upset the very families this 
process is designed to help.  USG funding is targeted for 
both exhumations and forensics work on missing persons cases. 
 This forensics work will include autopsies and 
identifications on bodies returned from Serbia as well as 
those exhumed in Kosovo.  OMPF is doing crucial work at a 
 
PRISTINA 00000608  004.2 OF 004 
 
 
crucial time, and returning the bodies of the missing to 
their families gives them some closure on the past and the 
opportunity to look towards the future.  It is an essential 
pre-requisite to inter-ethnic reconciliation in Kosovo.  END 
COMMENT. 
 
¶16.  (U)  Post clears this message in its entirety for 
release to Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari. 
MCBRIDE