ICTY demographers reduce Bosnia death total by 50% -Norwegian News Agfency

102,000 killed in Bosnia

Published on Nov. 14, 2004
By Kjell Arild Nilsen, NTB (Norwegian News Agency)


The number of people killed in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was around
102,000, according to research done by the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). This is half of earlier estimates.
The most common and most widely used number of killed persons in the Bosnia 
war has been around 200,000. But research shows that this number is too

Researchers at the court estimate the correct number to be a bit over102,000. This number deviates somewhat from a documentation project going on in Bosnia, and project leader Mirsad Tokaca concludes that the number of killed
was between 130,000 and 150,000. For ICTY, the research project is conducted by the two population experts Ewa Tabeau  and Jacub Bijak, who works for the ICTY prosecution.

The results were presented at a conference for population experts,
demographists, in Norway one year ago, but they have not been publicly known.

NTB has recently gained access to the material presented at the conference,
and for the first time they published scientific calculations of how many
civilians were killed in the terrible war in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992 to
1995.Civilians and military102,622 civilians and military personnel were killed, Tabeau and Bijak conclude. 55,261 civilians and 47,360 soldiers were killed, including Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats.

The researchers estimate the number of killed civilian Muslims and Croats to
be around 38,000, while the number of killed civilian Serbians was about
16,700. Among military personnel, the researchers think close to 28,000 people were killed in the government army, mostly Bosnian Muslims.

On the Serbian side, 14,000 soldiers were killed, while a bit over 6,000
Bosnian Croatian soldiers lost their lives because of actions of war.

Higher number

“The project of the Sarajevo Research and Documentation Center also has a
goal to document every single person killed in the war,” tells project
leader Tokaca.  He is not surprised about the numbers of the Hague researchers, but he thinks his own project will conclude with higher numbers. 
“In October we had over 84,000 documented names of killed persons, and by the end of the year I think we will have around 100,000,” he says.

The project ends this spring, and Tokaca’s rough estimate is that they will
end up with a number between 130,000 and 150,000.

“I don’t like to make premature estimates. But it will be over 100,000, and
surely under 200,000. Our list only includes persons killed as an action of
war, not those who died of indirect reasons of war,” says Tokaca who cannot
give enough praise to the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign

Conservative estimates

Researchers Tabeau Bijak have taken a clear reservation that the number
could be higher than previously concluded. Because the researchers work for the prosecution at the ICTY, the numbers have to be so certain that they can be used as documentation in the court.

Numbers for persons dying during the war because of lack of food, low
temperatures, lack of medicines and other endeavors in the war inflicted on
the civilian population are not included.

The researches are also careful to note that new documentation could
influence the final result.

Wrong numbers

The most commonly used number for killed persons in the war in
Bosnia-Herzegovina has been 200,000, and this number has been repeated in
international media since 1994.

The number originates from Cherif Bassouni, who was the leader of UN’s
expert commission investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia,
finishing their work in 1994.

Tabeau and Bijak conclude that this number is too high, and it was not based
on an examination of the cause of death in every single case, rather a
summary statistics based on numbers of killed and missing received by the
commission in their work and added together.

The researchers also reject other numbers presented, ranging from 25,000 to

Norway’s contribution has been essential to conclude the research.

The demographic unit at the office of the prosecution was established in

1998, and the two researchers said their positions would not be possible to
fund without generous contributions from Norway’s government.