Online map tracks Bosnian war crimes

/ Source: The Associated Press

Researchers in Sarajevo presented an online tool Tuesday showing the locations of Bosnian war crimes in what they called an attempt to prevent death toll numbers from being manipulated and misused.

The Sarajevo-based non-governmental Research and Documentation Center said casualty figures from conflicts in the region are often manipulated by politicians to justify attacks against other ethnic or religious groups.

The Sarajevo-based center said the Bosnian Atlas of War Crimes shows the locations of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia on a Google Earth interactive map.

"This is a unique, innovative approach to the process of facing the past," said Mirsad Tokaca, the head of the project.

By clicking on any of the spots on the map symbolizing either mass graves, prisons, religious or other locations, users open new windows offering information about what happened at the location. If available, photos, video clips or court sentences issued in connection with a crime at the location may pop up.

The war in Bosnia started after the country's Muslims and Croats voted to split from Serb-led Yugoslavia, triggering a rebellion by the Bosnian Serbs. The conflict — which saw Europe's worst bloodshed since World War II — lasted until a U.S.-brokered peace deal was signed in 1995.

For a decade after the end of the war, only rough estimates on the number of casualties existed, ranging anywhere from 25,000 to 300,000.

Tokacas' team worked for years with thousands of sources, collecting 21 different facts about each victim, including names, nationality, time and place of birth and death, circumstances of death and other data.

He first submitted the findings to the Demographic Unit research team of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague before he presented to the public two years ago that the true figure was about 100,000.

Prosecutors, media, scientists but also others like the children of Bosnians dispersed during the war all over the world can now get names, photos and other information with no regard to the "social, political or ethnic background of the victims," he said.

Financed by the governments of Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and others, teams of sociologists, software engineers and other experts so far visited over 2,500 sites with GPS devices. The work continues and data will be updated weekly.