Research halves Bosnia war death toll to 100,000
By Nedim Dervisbegovic
SARAJEVO (Reuters) – The death toll from the Bosnian war,
which ended 10 years ago this week, was half of the widely used
figure of about 200,000, a leading Bosnian war crimes
researcher said in an interview on Wednesday.
“Let me be clear, this is still an extremely high figure
but there is a big difference now that people cannot
irresponsibly use inflated numbers for their political goals,”
said Mirsad Tokaca, who heads the Sarajevo-based Investigation
and Documentation Center (IDC).
He said work to establish the exact number of Muslims,
Serbs and Croats killed in the 1992-95 war should be completed
in early 2006.
Tokaca estimated the number of victims at between 100,000
and 150,000 a year ago.
“We are at 93,000 now and that should rise to 100,000, give
or take,” said the ethnic Muslim (Bosniak) who has headed the
450,000-euro project funded by the Norwegian government since
“We should come out with full preliminary results by March
after which the number could be changed … but only slightly,”
he told Reuters.
The ethnic breakdown of the victims of the war, for which
the term “ethnic cleansing” was coined to describe large-scale
killings and expulsions of members of other ethnic groups,
remained unchanged from Tokaca’s estimate a year ago.
“It is about 70 percent Bosniaks, slightly under 25 percent
Serbs, slightly under five percent Croats and about one percent
of the others,” he said.
He said the multi-ethnic team of 12 professionals and
several volunteers combed military, civilian, non-governmental
and a number of other records and sources throughout Bosnia.
The initial, computerized, database included about 300,000
names as many people appeared on several different records
listed either as soldiers, police officers or civilians that
were killed or missing.
Once it has established the full database, which will be
made available on the Web, Tokaca’s team will produce an
analysis with ethnic, regional, age, sex and time breakdown.
“I can only say now that it will produce some stunning
conclusions but it is too early for me to go into details,”
said Tokaca, who has investigated war crimes for 13 years and
cooperated closely with U.N. investigators.
Tokaca has said the project is of invaluable importance for
the Balkan country’s reconciliation process.