The three pages from French journalist Florence Hartmann’s book “Peace and Punishment” that resulted in her being charged with contempt of court by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have been posted by Reporters Without Borders on its website in a show of support.
The press freedom organisation urges the media to do the same. A former Yugoslavia correspondent of Le Monde who went on to work as official spokesperson and Balkan adviser to ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, Hartmann faces up to seven years in prison and a fine of 100,000 euros when her trial by the Hague-based court begins on 15 June.
The three-page extract posted on the Reporters Without Borders website shows how the court’s judges to decided to withhold key evidence, including documents from the archives of the Supreme Council for the Defence of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montegro), that implicated the Serbian government in a war crime.
“International criminal tribunals should be trying war criminals, not journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “What Hartmann wrote did not constitute contempt of court. It simply explained the workings of the tribunal, and the content and desired effect of these decisions.”
The press freedom organisation added: “As well as being a serious violation of freedom of expression and the right to information, this contempt charge damages the image of international courts. What example of justice is the tribual giving when it presses contempt charges against a journalist who just exposed obstruction of justice.”
The tribunal brought the contempt charge against Hartman on 27 August 2008, following the publication of “Peace and Punishment.” It accuses her of “deliberately and knowingly” divulging confidential court decisions.