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Reading: Accused War Criminals qua Perpetrators: On the Visual Signification of Criminal Guilt

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Accused War Criminals qua Perpetrators: On the Visual Signification of Criminal Guilt

Author:

Katarina Ristić

Leipzig University, DE
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Abstract

This article examines media representations of two high-ranking defendants from Serbia indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. By drawing on a social semiotic multimodal analysis and by distinguishing between four types of perpetrator images (‘the politician’, ‘the strategist’, ‘the combatant’, and ‘the executioner’), the article provides a detailed analysis of the way in which visual material from the courtroom and from the war is used in television news broadcasts in order to ascribe – or not to ascribe – criminal guilt to the accused. Considering the specific culture of denial in Serbia, persistent despite of dozens of war crimes trials conducted at the ICTY and in domestic courts, the article further examines the use of visual materials in the defendant-centered national discourse and the victim-centered transnational discourse. The article argues that the use of visuals as exemplified in the victim-centered discourse is necessary albeit not sufficient for triggering the process of dealing with the past.

How to Cite: Ristić, K., 2019. Accused War Criminals qua Perpetrators: On the Visual Signification of Criminal Guilt. Journal of Perpetrator Research, 2(2), pp.156–179. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21039/jpr.2.2.42
Published on 18 Oct 2019.
Peer Reviewed

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