On Monday, 14 September, the Specially Appointed Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted French journalist Florence Hartmann for contempt of the Tribunal (Case No. IT-02-54-R77.5, full Judgement [PDF], Judgement Summary [PDF]).

On 27 August 2008 Florence Hartmann was charged with two counts of contempt of court, pursuant to Rule 77(A)(ii) of the Rules of Procedure, for knowingly interfering with the administration of justice by disclosing the contents, purported effect and confidential nature of two Tribunal decisions.

Hartmann, who served as public spokesperson for former ICTY chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte from 2000 to 2006, allegedly disclosed protected information relating to the Tribunal's proceedings against Slobodan Milošević in her book ‘Paix et châtiment : les guerres secrètes de la politique et de la justice internationales’ in 2007 and in an article entitled ‘Vital Genocide Documents Concealed’, published in January 2008.

The disclosed information concerned two confidential Appeals Chamber decisions not to publicise documents from Serbia's Supreme Defense Council given to the ICTY by Serbia for the purpose of the Milošević trial. These documents allegedly show the involvement of the Serbian government in the atrocities committed in the Bosnian war in the 1990s and might have supported Bosnia's efforts to hold Serbia liable for genocide in its case before the International Court of Justice.

During the trial both Hartmann's lawyer and numerous human-rights groups and NGOs in the former Yugoslavia pointed out that the information revealed by Hartmann was already in the public domain and that a conviction would be limiting free speech.

In its judgement the Specially Appointed Chamber stressed that “a decision remains confidential until a Chamber explicitly decides otherwise.” The Chamber found that, although some of the information disclosed by Hartmann was already in the public domain, it did not equal the confidential information referred to in the charges. In view of her former position at the ICTY the Chamber was also convinced that Hartmann knew that her disclosure was done in breach of a court order.

Regarding the sentence the Chamber considered that the conduct of Hartmann might deter other states from cooperating with the Tribunal in providing evidence which in turn would seriously hamper the work of the Tribunal. However, the Chamber also took into account, inter alia, that part of the information provided by Hartmann was already public. She was fined 7,000 Euros.

See also the blog written by William Schabas, "Hartmann Convicted of Contempt of the Tribunal."

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