Recovery

As written previously, investigating to locate buried corpses requires a complementary team of specialists and material adapted to the case. Recovery of cadavers also needs the assistance of traditional specialists: CST and forensic pathologist. As the time elapsed after the events can be more or less long, a lot of parameters may be different between burial and discovery such as climate and other environmental conditions. Several protocols concerning exhumation of clandestine graves and a strict methodology exist (Byrd and Castner 2001) that recommend the digging of a second, deeper grave beside the primary one, helping to excavate more carefully the cadaver and exploring the grave surroundings in a better way Beauthier et al. (2000).

In recent articles, different authors propose to better understand events surrounding death (crime scene or disaster) and to consider each grave as a potential crime scene, and include forensic archaeologists (Menez 2005) to carry out careful excavation and mapping and to define limits of the grave (Skinner and Sterenberg 2005), as well as forensic anthropologists: experts in the identification and determination of altered bone elements, forensic odontologists, ballistic specialist, botanists, and entomologists. It is obvious that such a multidisciplinary team is not easy to gather in every situation dealing with a buried cadaver. Material of excavation has also to be adapted to the type of situation: shovel, sieve, bulldozer, metal detector. Particular installation has to be set up sometimes: tent, chain of treatment to sort elements from soil of tables for corpse examination Beauthier et al. (2000).

Coexistence of different specialists (discipline, structure, status) may lead to a problem of management. That is why defining limits for each of them is mandatory as also the presence of a scene manager (Skinner and Sterenberg 2005).

Excavation can start with bulldozers to remove the first layers of soil. If not, soil is manually removed with a shovel in order to reach remains or skeletons. Exhumation is performed very carefully not to lose evidences or deteriorate corpses or bones. This crime scene is managed in the usual way: evidences are identified, photographed, collected and inventoried.

Once exhumation has ended, the remaining soil is carefully sorted with sieve or a more sophisticated system (chain). Corpses are submitted to radiography and medico-legal expertise (external and internal exams, DNA sampling, fingerprint sampling, entomological sampling, etc.).

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