The Special Chamber of the Tribunal in The Hague has found the French journalist ‘guilty’ of ‘conscious and deliberate obstruction of justice’ sentencing her to a €7,000 fine. All the defense’s arguments were rejected. The defense indicated at trial it intended to appeal before the ICTY Appeals Chamber and the European Court of Human Rights if their client were convicted

Florence Hartmann in the courtroomFlorence Hartmann in the courtroom

Florence Hartmann, French journalist and former OTP spokesperson, was found guilty today of contempt of court, and was fined €7,000. The judgment was delivered by the ICTY’s Special Chamber with South African judge Moloto presiding and judges Liu from China and Guney from Turkey.

The Special Chamber concluded that Florence Hartmann ‘consciously and deliberately disclosed contents, purported effects and confidential nature of the two decisions of the Appeals Chamber in the Slobodan Milosevic case. Those decisions granted confidential status to documents issued by the FRY’s Supreme Council of Defense delivered to the Tribunal during the Milosevic trial. These documents allegedly contain evidence of Serbia’s involvement in the war in BH. As Hartmann wrote in the incriminating texts, protection measures were granted to those documents to protect Serbia from its responsibility before the International Court of Justice. At that time, the BH versus Serbia case went on before the ICJ.

Although it accepts that some of the information published by Hartmann was already available to the public, the Special Chamber rejected as ‘unfounded’ the argument of the French journalist’s defense that the Appeals Chamber decisions ‘lost its confidential status’ when they were mentioned in public documents issued by the Tribunal. The argument that Serbia ‘renounced protective measures’ when its officials openly talked about confidential documents of the Supreme Defense Council was also rejected. Confidential decisions of ICTY Chambers, the judgment concluded, remain confidential until a chamber decides otherwise.

Although Serbia in no way protested against the disclosure of the information and despite the progress in its cooperation with the Tribunal, the judgment highlights the fact that if other people were to do the same things the French journalist is charged with that ‘may dissuade sovereign countries from delivering documents’ requested by the Tribunal. The Special Chamber also stressed it was necessary to ‘deter the accused and others from disclosing of confidential information in the future’.

It seems that this judgment will not be a final point in the Florence Hartmann case. Hartmann’s defense counsel indicated during the trial their intention to file an appeal not only before the ICTY Appeals Chamber but also before European Court of Human Rights if their client were convicted. In their opinion, the trial against the French journalist is an attempt to prevent all criticism of the Tribunal’s decisions and to impose new restrictions on the freedom of speech.