Murat Hurtić is a synonym for the search for missing persons in Podrinje. The man who has been visiting the riskiest places in this part of the country for twenty years now, persistently and committedly, risking his own life, just to discover mass graves and find the remains of the victims.
Behind him is more than 120 mass graves in Podrinje from which thousands of remains were exhumed and around 8.500 Bosniaks buried, killed between 1992 and 1995. Although he was born in Grapska near Doboj, Hurtić is bonded with Podrinje, and the destiny designated that he dedicates the majority of his life to this area. He does not regret that – he is proud of that.
It all started in October 1996. During the war, he was in an exchange.
“I was captured with my four brothers and held in two separate camps. After my first release from the camp, I strived to liberate my brothers and other resident of Grapska as soon as possible,” Hurtić says.
After the war, when he thought that he will not be dealing with searching for missing persons anymore and that he will dedicate himself to education and upbringing of children, he was offered this job that he has been doing for 20 years now. Murat says that there were moments and opportunities when he could leave this job, to do something more peaceful and less stressful, but that did not happen.
He will never forget the first mass grave he unearthed. It was an unprepared exhumation attended by “inexperienced people”. The mass grave was located near Baljkovica, several kilometers away from Nezuk near Sapna, where the columns of people from Podrinje passed in July of 1995.
“We had no experience back then, we even passed through a mined area. We found five skeletal remains near a creek, and that was the first time I encountered skeletal remains. Since it was year 1996, the bodies did not even decompose yet. It was very difficult,” Hurtić says.
The intense work on the opening of mass graves in Podrinje started then. At the beginning of the process, there were no sufficient funds, and those who were searching for the missing ones had good heart and good will.
“I am not sure if I should talk about this, but I can say with pride that I participated in all localities, there are more than 120 mass graves behind me and my team, more than 800 locations where we were working, around 15.000 to 16.000 cases we exhumed and more than 10.000 people who got their names, from Doboj, Brčko, Bijeljina, Srebrenica, Bratunac, to Milići…,” Hurtić says.
Murat often talks about the mass grave Suha near Bratunac. That is a mass grave where 36 remains were found, among whom were ten children and many women.
“We found Zekira Begić, who was nine months pregnant. During autopsy, we took out a baby boy who was supposed to come to this world in 1992. It was difficult to watch a mother holding her six-month-old baby in her hands, with her hands clenched, and a bottle full of milk between them. It is difficult to see a brother and a sister, only several years apart, together in one bag,” Hurtić says.
This expert in the search for missing persons also worked on the revelation of the valley of mass graves in Kamenica, where there are 14 mass graves in the length of seven kilometers. Thirteen mass graves are from 1995, and one is from 1992.
“There was this one time when a mother, Sabaheta Fejzić, came to the mass grave and stayed there for a long time, just standing by the mass grave. I asked her what was the problem, and she said her son was in that mass grave. I asked her how she knew that, and she said that some kind of force attracts her to all the mass graves, but that force was the strongest one,” Hurtić says, adding that two-three months later a DNA analysis report arrived, confirming that Sabheta’s son was precisely in that mass grave, Kamenica 9.
Hurtić says he is truly bonded with Podrinje and that it would be very difficult for him if he did not meet this area well. He says his was has been going on for 24 years now, but that he found peace doing this job. He found peace in religion, and his lovely family supports him a lot.
(Source: faktor.ba/photo: faktor.ba)