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> FLORENCE HARTMANN ACTED IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTCE AND HISTORY
FLORENCE HARTMANN ACTED IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTCE AND HISTORY
On August 27th, Florence Hartmann – former official spokesperson for the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal – was indicted by the court on two counts of contempt. Ms Hartmann worked for eleven years for the French daily Le Monde, during the 1990s as its correspondent in the former Yugoslavia, and earned respect as one of the most distinguished journalists in Europe.
Ms Hartmann is a very brave woman. She stood up for victims’ rights and used her investigative skills to uncover the dirt that enabled Serbia to get away with genocide. The court alleges that Ms Hartmann revealed the information concerning the court’s decision in February 2007 to clear the Serbian government of genocide charges following the death of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic.
More specifically, in an article entitled “Vital genocide documents concealed“, published by the Bosnian Institute in the United Kingdom, Hartmann revealed that key documents proving that Serbia was ‘in control’ of the Bosnia Serbian Army at the time of the Srebrenica massacre were blacked out at the request of the Serbian government (see here). The 15 judges had not even seen the censored military archives.
The Trial Chamber ordered the prosecution of Florence Hartmann “for knowingly and willfully disclosing information in knowing violation of an order of a Chamber.” The Order states that, “Florence Hartmann knew that the information was confidential at the time disclosure was made, that the decisions from which the information was drawn were ordered to be filed confidentially, and that by her disclosure she was revealing confidential information to the public.” Ms Hartmann faces one charge of disclosing information in her book “Peace and Punishment” and another over an article published in January this year by the Bosnian Institute in the United Kingdom. The Order summons Ms Hartmann to appear before the Court on September 15, 2008.
Dr. Marko Attila Hoare, a renowned historian and one of the most respected scholars on the subject of Balkan history, recently voiced his displeasure with Ms Hartmann’s prosecution:
“I am myself a former official of the Tribunal, and my biggest criticism of it has been its failure to indict most of the principal Serbian and Montenegrin war-criminals, a failure that, on the basis of my eyewitness experience, I attribute in large part to the poor strategy of del Ponte as Chief Prosecutor. But a perhaps even more shameful failing on the Tribunal’s part was the one about which Florence writes: the decision of the judges in the Milosevic case to allow Serbia, when submitting to the Tribunal the minutes of the ‘Supreme Defence Council’ of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to censor parts of it in the version that was made public. As Florence argues, it was thanks to the Tribunal’s collusion with Serbia in the suppression of this crucial piece of evidence, that Bosnia was not able to draw upon the latter in its case against Serbia for genocide at the International Court of Justice, leading to Serbia’s unjustified acquittal.”
Ms Hartmann is the second journalist to be prosecuted by the Tribunal. On July 24, Kosovo journalist Mr Baton Haxhiu was convicted by the court for publishing details about a protected witness who testified at the trial of Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. Mr Haxhiu was fined €7,000. Ms Hartmann’s lawyer denounced the charges and said in a statement that they were motivated by non-legal concerns.”This decision is incredible,” lawyer William Bourdon said from Paris.
“Taking action against Ms. Hartmann means that all those who, legitimately, in the interest of the public and of history, wish to bear witness to their actions in the service of international penal justice will be muzzled,” he said.
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