Histological observations on adipocere in human remains buried for 21 years at the Tomašica grave-site in Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Adis Salihbegović Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • John Clark Formerly Department of Forensic Medicine and Science, School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  • Nermin Sarajlić Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Svjetlana Radović Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Finlay Finlay Department of Forensic Medicine and Science, School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  • Anes Jogunčić Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Emina Spahić Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Vedo Tuco Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tuzla, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Keywords: Tomašica mass grave, adipocere, histopathology

Abstract

The Tomašica grave-site near Prijedor in the north of Bosnia is reported to be the largest primary mass grave discovered thus far relating to the 1992–95 war. A total of 275 complete bodies and 125 body parts were exhumed from it in 2013. Post mortem examinations of the victims showed that nearly all had died from gunshot injuries but an additional striking feature was the degree of preservation of many of the bodies, even 21 years on, with skin, soft tissues and internal organs still present in abundance and gross structures clearly identifiable. Histology was performed on 68 samples of soft tissue from a total 13 bodies, on both skin and internal organs, and the degree of preservation was assessed in terms of the ability to recognize microscopic structure. Further comparison was made with samples taken a month or so later (56 tissue samples from 9 bodies, all but one different from the first group), after the bodies had been covered in salt as a means of general preservation. Generally, at a microscopic level, skin and subcutaneous tissues were better preserved than internal organs, while tissues sampled at the time of autopsy were better preserved than those sampled weeks later.

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Author Biographies

Adis Salihbegović, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Department of Forensic Medicine
John Clark, Formerly Department of Forensic Medicine and Science, School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
Formerly Department of Forensic Medicine and Science
Nermin Sarajlić, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Department of Forensic Medicine
Svjetlana Radović, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Department of Pathology
Finlay Finlay, Department of Forensic Medicine and Science, School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
Department of Forensic Medicine and Science
Anes Jogunčić, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Department of Forensic Medicine
Emina Spahić, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Department of Forensic Medicine
Vedo Tuco, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tuzla, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Department of Forensic Medicine

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Published
2018-08-01
How to Cite
1.
Salihbegović A, Clark J, Sarajlić N, Radović S, Finlay F, Jogunčić A, Spahić E, Tuco V. Histological observations on adipocere in human remains buried for 21 years at the Tomašica grave-site in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosn J of Basic Med Sci [Internet]. 2018Aug.1 [cited 2019Apr.18];18(3):234-9. Available from: https://www.bjbms.org/ojs/index.php/bjbms/article/view/3343
Section
Pathology