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Lecture to reveal mass grave evidence

BU students in fake mass graves exercise

Global expert to lecture on the importance of evidence drawn from mass graves.

One of the world's leading experts on the archaeological excavation of mass graves will deliver a public lecture at BU's Talbot Campus on Tuesday 16 December.

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

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 to 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," said Professor Wright, who will be in Bournemouth from 15 to 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 continued. "Cases that depend on the statements of eye-witnesses are particularly vulnerable. 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."

Since 1997 BU 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 ICMP (International Commission of Missing Persons) 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.

When: Tuesday 16 December

Where: Marconi Lecture Theatre, Talbot Campus

Time: 5.15pm (refreshments), 6pm (talk)

All are welcome and admission to the lecture is free.

For further information, and to confirm your place please email

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