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January 1997

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EMBARGO 00:01 Saturday 25 January 1997


Journalist exposes the truth behind Bosnia "death-camp" photograph


The picture that came to symbolise the Bosnian war has been condemned by an expert witness to the UN War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague. German journalist Thomas Deichmann says that the image of an emaciated Bosnian Muslim caged behind barbed wire was created by 'camera angles and editing'.

The picture provoked an international outcry and was seen by much of the world as proof that the Bosnian Serbs were running Nazi-style 'concentration camps'. But Deichmann, in an exclusive article published in February's LM magazine, insists that 'the image is misleading and has fooled the world'.

The picture of Fikret Alic was taken from videotape shot at Trnopolje on 5 August 1992 by an award-winning British team led by Penny Marshall (ITN) with her cameraman Jeremy Irvin, accompanied by Ian Williams (Channel 4) and Guardian reporter Ed Vulliamy.

Deichmann has revisited Trnopolje and has also seen unused video footage that shows how this powerful image was created. He found that:

  • there was no barbed wire fence surrounding the Trnopolje camp.
  • the camp was a collection centre for refugees, not a prison.
  • the refugees in the picture were not surrounded by barbed wire. The barbed wire surrounded the news team who were filming from inside a small enclosure next to the camp.

Thomas Deichmann says:

"I am shocked that over the past four and a half years, none of the journalists involved has told the full story about that barbed wire fence which made such an impact on world opinion. The photograph has been taken as proof that Trnopolje was a Nazi-style concentration camp, but the journalists knew that it was no such thing."

Mick Hume, LM editor, says:

"If they are not very careful, journalists who have some kind of emotional attachment in a conflict can end up seeing what they want to see, rather that what is really there. Taking sides cannot be an excuse for taking liberties with the facts."


For further information or comment contact:

Jan Macvarish, LM Press Officer

0171 278 9908

(0831 246 694 out of hours)

Thomas Deichmann and Mick Hume are available for interview.

Photographs on request.



BM InformInc, London, WC1N 3XX. Tel (0171) 278 9908 Fax (0171) 278 9844

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