Forensic investigation of Barzanian mass grave skeletal remains at Busaya desert in Samawa, Iraq

Abstract

Background and objective: Human identification and anthropological evaluation of mass graves are the key step towards scientific documentation and achieving justice. This study aimed to investigate the exhumation, anthropological evaluation, and individual victim identification of a mass grave in Busaya in Samawa governorate.Methods: The investigation included excavation of the graves and identification of the victims. The field study was started after taking testimonies and witnesses for locating the site of graves. The sites were determined, which were excavated according to the scientific standard procedures. Gender determination and age and stature estimation were performed on the remnant skeletons in the laboratory of the medico-legal institute in Erbil.Results: The grave included 93 bodies, 66 (71%) were males, 24 (26%) were possibly males, while the others were not identified because of degradations of the bones. The results of age estimation reported that the number of young bodies under 20 years old were five cases (5.4%), while 53 cases (57%) were young bodies between 20-29 years. The rest were more than 30 years old, except for eight cases that could not be identified. The results of stature revealed that more than half of cases had stature more than 166 cm, while only six cases were less than 155 cm. All the remained bones were recorded in detail for more documentation.Conclusion: These findings described the anthropological evaluation of a large Barzanian mass graves in Busaya desert in the south region in Iraq. The majority (or all) of the victims were males and young people.