UN dismisses ICTY staff member’s appeal of contempt conviction

UN dismisses ICTY staff member’s appeal of contempt conviction

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[JURIST] The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Tuesday upheld [judgment, PDF; press release] the contempt conviction of former spokesperson Florence Hartmann [BBC profile; ICTY materials, PDF]. A specially appointed chamber found Hartmann guilty of contempt [JURIST report] in 2009 for revealing confidential judicial decisions. Tuesday’s judgment reinforced that Hartmann had done irreparable damage to the ICTY’s mission:

[T]he Appeals Chamber observes that the Trial Chamber found that the effect of Hartmann’s disclosure of confidential information decreased the likelihood that states would cooperate with the Tribunal in the future, thereby undermining its ability to exercise its jurisdiction to prosecute and punish serious violations of humanitarian law. The Trial Chamber further found that prosecuting an individual for contempt under these circumstances was proportionate to the effect her actions had on the Tribunal’s ability to administer international criminal justice. The Appeals Chamber is therefore of the view that the Trial Chamber was correct to conclude that Rule 54 of the Rules permits the Tribunal to impose confidentiality in an effort to secure the cooperation of sovereign states. In light of the foregoing, the Appeals Chamber is satisfied that the Trial Chamber adequately took into account all relevant considerations to ensure that its Judgement was rendered in conformity with international law.

Hartmann had been charged [JURIST report] with two counts of contempt for allegedly disclosing protected information of appellate chamber decisions from the trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] in a book and an article she wrote in 2007 and 2008. She was fined €7,000, which the court also upheld.

Hartmann’s trial began [JURIST report] in June 2009. At an initial appearance, Hartmann did not enter a plea [JURIST report] and a plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf. 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].