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The Issue of Genocidal Intent and Denial of Genocide. A Case Study of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Written by Edina Bećirević, this article appeared on the fourth issue of Vol. 24 of the journal East European Politics and Society in November 2010.
 
The article discusses the issue of special genocidal intent and, within it, the relevance of judicially established truths to the wider historical context. It suggests that genocide researchers should not rely only on verdicts—which either deny or confirm genocide— as historical truth but, rather, use the judicial process and trial evidence as signposts to direct their research.
The author uses the case study of Serbian genocide against Bosnian Muslims from 1992 to 1995 to illustrate the failings of judicially established truths in determining wider historical truth. Wartime documentation, interviews with witnesses, and court transcripts are analyzed to illustrate how this wider truth is sometimes lost when focus on the importance of supporting documents is overshadowed by a final verdict. The case of Srebrenica is outlined to illustrate how documents used in trials, as well as witness testimonies, can contribute on their own to the understanding of historical truths. In this case, a selection of trial narratives and documents is used to examine not only if there was “special intent” among Serbian political leadership to exterminate Bosnian Muslims as early as 1992, but also to determine if international community representatives were aware of that intent and ignored it consciously.

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