Ex-staffer at UN's Balkan war crimes tribunal found guilty of contempt
14 September 2009 – A former prosecution spokesperson at the United Nations tribunal set up to tackle the worst war crimes committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s faces a fine of €7,000 after being found guilty today of contempt of court by the same tribunal for disclosing confidential information about the case of Slobodan Milosević.
Florence Hartmann was convicted by a specially appointed chamber of judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of contempt for disclosing confidential information in knowing violation of a court order.
Ms. Hartmann is required to pay her fine in two instalments of €3,500, with the instalments due by mid-October and mid-November respectively.
The ICTY found that Ms. Hartmann had twice disclosed the contents, purported effect and confidential nature of two decisions by the tribunal’s appeals chamber – once in her book, Peace and Punishment, published in September 2007, and once in an article entitled Vital Genocide Documents Concealed, published by the Bosnian Institute in January 2008.
Announcing its decision today, the tribunal dismissed the argument by Ms. Hartmann that the same information was already in the public domain and added that “a decision remains confidential until a chamber explicitly decides otherwise.”
The judges said that the behaviour of Ms. Hartmann could deter countries from cooperating with the ICTY regarding the provision of evidence.
“This… impacts upon the tribunal’s ability to exercise its jurisdiction to prosecute and punish serious violations of humanitarian law as prescribed by its mandate,” said Judge Bakone Justice Moloto, who presided in the case. “Public confidence in the effectiveness of protective measures, orders and decisions is vital to the success of the work of the tribunal.”
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