Bournemouth University

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BU Lecture to Focus to Reveal Importance of Mass Grave Evidence

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Excavating mass graves Excavating mass graves

One of the world’s leading experts on the archaeological excavation of mass graves will deliver a public lecture at Bournemouth University next week.

Professor Richard Wright, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Sydney, will focus on Excavating Mass Graves: the Evidentiary Importance of Human Bodies in International Criminal Tribunals on Tuesday, 16th December.

The lecture will be held in the Marconi Lecture Theatre on BU’s Talbot Campus at 6.00 pm with refreshments served from 5.15 pm. All are welcome and admission to the lecture is free.

Professor Wright is the former Chief Archaeologist for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He has specialised in applying archaeological methods to the discovery and excavation of mass graves having worked on execution sites in Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzogovina since 1990.

From 1997-2000, he led an international team of archaeologists and human biologists for the ICTY. The work involved locating clandestine mass graves and examining the evidence contained in them. Subsequently, Professor Wright gave testimony at two trials in The Hague linked to his team’s discoveries.

The subject of his talk at BU is the judicial context of bodies from mass graves.

“I shall discuss topics that exemplify the power that flows from being able to display bodies to courts,” says Professor Wright who will be in Bournemouth from 15-17 December to lead a three-day masterclass on the estimation of ancestry from human skulls.

“By contrast, and where there are no bodies to show, a lazy prosecution case can be weakened by the unnecessary lack of material evidence,” he continues.

“Particularly vulnerable are cases that depend on the statements of eye-witnesses. I shall discuss efforts by revisionists to protect their positions.
“These efforts include denying that there are any bodies, that the number is less than expected, and that the bodies are attributable to unrelated events,” he concludes.
Between 1997 and the present, BU’s students and staff have made their own contribution to global human rights investigations. In that time, an estimated 12 students from BU’s Masters-level forensic courses have worked on ICTY and IC-MP teams. A further six members of staff from BU, past and present, have also worked for ICTY and other United Nations investigations over the last decade.

Professor Richard Wright’s public lecture ‘Excavating Mass Graves: the Evidentiary Importance of Human Bodies in International Criminal Tribunals’ is scheduled for Tuesday, 16th December in the Marconi Lecture Theatre on the Talbot Campus of Bournemouth University.

The lecture starts at 6.00pm with refreshments served from 5.15pm. Admission to the lecture and the refreshments are free. All are welcome to attend.

For further information, and to confirm your place, please email