Helena Ranta involved in plans for forensic medicine centre in Chechnya
The Council of Europe and Russia have agreed on a plan to send a group of experts to Chechnya to assess the possibilities of setting up a centre for forensic medicine in the embattled region of Chechnya. The purpose of the centre would be to identify bodies of people killed in violence in the area.
The four-member group is to include Finnish forensic dentist Helena Ranta. The other members would be from Britain, France, and Germany.
The group's eight-day visit is to begin in Moscow on September 25th.
From Moscow the group is to go to Rostov to visit that city's Institute of Forensic Medicine, where unidentified bodies from Chechnya are currently taken for identification. The process is seen as cumbersome, as the bodies have to be transported nearly 500 kilometres for examination in Rostov.
The group will also visit the Chechen capital Gorozny to look at an empty building that has been seen as a possible location for an identification centre.
The group is to assess what kind of equipment such a centre would need, and prepare for the recruitment of staff, which could prove to be difficult, according to Anna Capello, head of the Directorate of Strategic Planning of the Council of Europe.
The initiative for such a centre was made late last year by the pro-Russian administration of Chechnya. It was later endorsed by the council's Commissioner for Human Rights Alvaro Gil-Robles, who has paid a number of visits to Chechnya.
The present Chechen administration estimates that up to 160,000 people have been killed in two recent wars in Chechnya.
Helena Ranta has been involved in efforts to locate and identify bodies of people killed in a number of crisis areas around the world. Ranta achieved an international reputation in Kosovo in 1999 when she led an international team investigating a massacre of civilians in Racak, in the south of the embattled province.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Helena Ranta to Iraq to lead group investigating graves of Saddam victims (8.3.2004)
Forensic team to return to Kosovo to study Racak massacre (5.11.1999)
Helena Ranta testifies at Milosevic trial in The Hague (13.3.2003)
Finnish forensic expert Helena Ranta to work with UN Jenin fact-finding mission (25.4.2002)
Finnish field study indicates Racak Massacre was atrocity (12.2.2001)
Helena Ranta´s team examined mass-graves in Iraq (9.4.2004)