Bosnia in the Croatian War Narrative: A Missed Expressivist Opportunity?
What effect does a globally televised courtroom suicide have on a transitional justice process? This chapter looks at how the Croatian public, elites and media interpreted the suicide of Slobodan Praljak at the ICTY, as well as how Croatian involvement in the conflict in Bosnia interacts with the war narrative. It had the potential to undermine the notion of exclusive self-defence, but this did not occur. Instead, Croatia is seen as Bosnia’s benevolent saviour. Responses to Praljak’s suicide and verdict focused on ICTY incompetence and political bias, while the crimes and legal implications of the verdict were ignored. The ICTY was seen an instrument for narrative contestation, and it struggled to control its expressivist effects. The lesson for transitional justice is that extra-legal messages, expressed through the theatre of trials, matter. The public looked to the ICTY in key moments, often of shock, rather than throughout a process.
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