ICTY convicts journalist for exposing witness in war crimes trial

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Thursday convicted [judgment summary; press release] a Kosovar journalist on contempt of court charges and fined him 7,000 euros for revealing the identity of a witness in the war crimes trial of former Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj [TrialWatch profile; JURIST news archive]. Baton Haxhiu [ICTY case sheet, PDF] was indicted [text, PDF; JURIST report] on the charges and pleaded not guilty in May. The judgment summary, read aloud by the judge following the trial, notes:

In his interview with the Prosecution, the Accused agreed and admitted that it was against the law to publish the name of the Witness and that he had violated "the rule of the Tribunal" by publishing it. The Accused added that because the Witness’s name was known in Kosovo by a select group of people, he published the Witness’s name to protect the Witness because the Tribunal had failed to do so. In this respect, the Chamber considered that individuals, including journalists, cannot decide to publish information in defiance of protective measures orders, on the basis of their own assessment of the public interest in that information.
Haxhiu must pay the full fine amount by November 24. Reuters has more.

Haradinaj was a senior commander of the KLA, the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force that opposed Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war [BBC backgrounder]. He was indicted [initial indictment, PDF] by ICTY prosecutors in 2005. Haradinaj was acquitted [JURIST report] in April, but former Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte’s claims of witness intimidation have brought the proceedings under scrutiny. Prosecutors are now appealing.


 

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