Slovenia reburies 800 bodies from post-WWII mass grave

MARIBOR, Slovenia (AP) " Slovenia on Thursday reburied the remains of some 800 people found in a mass grave containing the bodies of thousands believed killed in the aftermath of World War II by the communist authorities.

The remains were laid to rest in a memorial park in Maribor, northeastern Slovenia, alongside other victims of post-WWII summary executions. The victims are believed to be mostly Croats and Slovenes from WWII pro-Nazi groups killed by the victorious communists.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic laid a wreath as part of commemoration ceremonies. Grabar Kitarovic said the victims of communist executions should be treated with dignity.

"Historic truth must be established because it presents a basis for a better future," said Grabar Kitarovic. "Each victim deserves respect."

The so-called Huda Jama mass grave was discovered in 2009 in an abandoned mine east of Ljubljana. Experts say it contains the remains of up to 5,000 people.

Pavel Jamnik, a senior policeman working on the excavations, said most of the 800 victims uncovered so far were soldiers but civilians and women also were found in the pit.

"Most of bodies are mummified, but due to enormous number of victims and big pressures in the shaft bodies are torn," Jamnik said. "To see so many bodies at once . that changes you."

Authorities are hoping to unearth and rebury the remaining victims from the grave by the end of 2017.

There are around 600 mass graves in Slovenia linked to post-WWII executions. Thousands of pro-Nazi collaborators were killed after the German defeat and liberation by anti-fascist, pro-Communist troops.

The Communists took over power after the war, creating Yugoslavia, a multi-ethnic federation of six republics. That country dissolved in a bloody war in the 1990s.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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