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ICTY ex-spokeswoman contempt trial begins

[JURIST] Former spokeswoman for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] Florence Hartmann [publicity interview; ICTY materials, PDF] went on trial Monday to face accusations of contempt for allegedly publishing details of tribunal proceedings. Hartmann is specifically charged [press release; JURIST report] with contempt of the tribunal in violation of procedural Rule 77(A)(ii) [text, PDF] for "knowingly and willingly disclosing information in knowing violation of an order of a Chamber" and "interfering with the administration of justice." Hartmann, who published the book Peace and Punishment: The Secret Wars of Politics and International Justice [excerpts, PDF] in 2007, allegedly disclosed classified information relating to the tribunal's proceedings against Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] in her book and in an article. The information that was disclosed concerned decisions to not publicize documents [AP report] that might have aided Bosnia's efforts to hold Serbia liable for genocide following the Balkan conflicts [BBC backgrounder] in the early 1990s. At isue are minutes from Serbia's Supreme Defense Council, which allegedly implicate Belgrade for atrocities, given to the ICTY by Serbia for the sole purpose of the Milosevic trial. Hartmann's lawyer maintains that the information was previously disclosed by others and that a conviction would be limiting free speech. A Hartmann support group [advocacy website] has expressed concern [press release, DOC] that prohibiting the material to be published will burden Bosnian victims who have a right to challenge the "controversial deal between Serbia and the ICTY" and to revisit Serbia's responsibility. At an initial appearance, Hartmann did not enter a plea [JURIST report] and a plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf in November.

Hartmann formally served as the official spokesperson for chief ICTY prosecutor Carla del Ponte [BBC profile]. Before being indicted, Hartmann drew media attention by repeating allegations [JURIST report] that former US president Bill Clinton and former French president Jacques Chirac had planned a campaign [JURIST report] to capture Radovan Karadzic [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], but later backed down following a change in policy. Hartmann has also said that Russia aided in moving Karadzic to safety in Belarus, and alleged that the West helped in order to hide information about the Srebrenica massacre [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive].

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