MARCH 8 2009 17:38h
The first exhumed gallery of the old Trbovlje-Hrastik mine could hide at least a thousand more bodies.
High representatives of the Croatian government will pay tribute to victims found in a mass tomb in Slovenia, dating back to World War II. Slovene media speculate that the number of victims might be significantly greater than it has been determined so far, while witnesses of the events live in fear 54 years later.
Croatian deputy PM Jadranka Kosor and Interior Minister Tomislav Karamarko will lay down wreaths and light candles at the abandoned mine in Barbarin Rov (Barbara`s Trench) in the village of Huda Jama near Lasko, where Croatian and Slovene victims of war “purges” lie, according to certain documents and statements from witnesses.
Historian doctor Mitja Ferenc said that so far, the remains of 200 to 400 victims have been found, but that more bodies can be expected in the same place, because the research and exhumation are not over yet. Killed Slovene and Croatian defenders are in question, probably Ustasha units.
Eliminates just like Teharje camp prisoners
At least a thousand more bodies could be discovered in the first dug out gallery of the old Trbovlje-Hrasnik mine, where coal was exploited until 1992, bodies similarly eliminated to prisoners of the Teharje camp near Celje, Ferenc claims.
The gallery where the first mummies and skeletons were found is located between two mining sink-holes, one of which is 30 metres deep, the other 40 metres. Due to material settlement, the first ten metres are now empty, while they are full of the victims` remains, Ference told the Slovene television.
Criminalist Pavle Jamnik, who has been running the “Sprava” police operation which is to determine responsibility for out-of-court executions after the war, reiterates that the important thing for the police is to determine “who is responsible for the mass murders and who executed them”.
The fact that the police have not managed to raise evidence against the organisers and executers is not a sign of poor police work, but of the “conspirative way” the crime was committed and “systematic erasure of tracks and destruction of documents”, Jamnik claims.
Although the revelation of the heinous crime in Huda Jama may be the final chance of “bringing the executioners to justice”, considering their old age now, the chances of this happening are slim, Slovene media claim. The “atmosphere of fear” is largely the reason why, which is still present in certain environments where post war murders took place.
- Trust me, I fear today that someone might retaliate for what I am saying. The people are careful here and this goes for me too – a woman from Teharje near Celje told the Zurnal weekly, under the condition of anonymity. She claims that she used to play as a child inside a house which served as a make-shift prison before Slovene defenders and Croatian Ustashas went to the battle field outside that town, even the Barbarin Rov mine.
- I lived 15 years of my childhood in that house. When we moved there, I was 9 and I remember well that there was a chest in the attic full of pins in the shape of the letter `U`. There were made from aluminium and very bendable. Today, I suppose they were taken off the hats of imprisoned Croatian Ustasha soldiers and the basement was full of long green army winter coats. Even though it was summer, they wore winter uniforms, because they probably did not have the time to change clothes – the collocutor of the Zurnal weekly said.
- We did not dare to speak of it later, I never discussed it with my own mother even, I remember the messages which the inmates used to write on the basement walls before they were taken away and the whole matter was dreadful – she said. Today, she believes that the Huda Jama victims were taken away from that same house and that the women who were imprisoned in the Teharje camp were taken elsewhere.
Ferenc claims that it cannot be determined if the Barbarin Rov victims were Slovene defenders from Teharje or Croatian soldiers before an autopsy, but probably both are located there.