A mass grave believed to contain the remains of a famous Serb guerrilla commander and nine others executed by communists in 1946 has been discovered after nearly six decades of mystery, local media and an intelligence official said Thursday. The remains were discovered some 400 meters (yards) from the Belgrade White Palace, the Evropa weekly reported.
The palace is the former residence of late Yugoslav communist strongman Josip Broz Tito who had ordered the execution of Gen. Draza Mihajlovic, who led the Serb "chetnik" movement loyal to the exiled Serb monarchs during World War II.
Serbia's state security service denied the report in a statement later Thursday, saying it had no knowledge of the location of Mihajlovic's grave.
He said that police were led to the unmarked grave by a former communist army officer, who had witnessed the execution and the secret burial of Mihajlovic and nine other Serb anti-Communists. Because of the ongoing investigation, the secret service official refused to reveal the exact location of the mass grave. He said it is near the White Palace in the exclusive Belgrade Dedinje district, the home of senior government officials and foreign diplomats.
As part of the then-Yugoslavia, Serbia had one of the largest anti-fascist resistance movements in Europe, with Tito-led partisan guerrillas fighting alongside Mihajlovic's troops.
By 1942, the royalists and the communists turned on each other, with the royalists gradually losing ground to Allied-supported partisans. Their bloody civil war went on simultaneously with the fight to liberate Serbia from German troops, with Mihajlovic occasionally collaborating with the Nazis.
In 1948, U.S. President Harry S. Truman posthumously awarded Mihajlovic with the Legion of Merit award for his key role in rescuing hundreds of American airmen who had been downed by Nazis over Serbia. A.M.