Frenchwoman Florence Hartmann, a former spokesperson for the UN's war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia, goes on trial for disclosing classified information in a book published in 2007. If found guilty, she risks seven years in jail.
AFP - Florence Hartmann, a former spokeswoman of the UN's Yugoslav war crimes court, goes on trial before her former employer on Monday, risking seven years in jail for publishing classified information.
Hartmann, a 46-year-old French national, stands accused of wilfully disclosing confidential facts in a 2007 book she wrote about the workings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and in a later published article.
But her lawyer, Guenael Mettraux, will argue the information had been in the public domain anyway.
"The tribunal itself referred to these confidential decisions in a number of public decisions," he told AFP ahead of the trial.
Hartmann covered the Balkan wars of the 1990s as a journalist for the French newspaper Le Monde and went on to become spokeswoman for the former chief war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte from 2000 to 2006.
After leaving she published a book, "Peace and Punishment: The Secret Wars of Politics and International Justice" and wrote several articles on the court's work, notably for Paris Match magazine.
The information she published allegedly implicates the Serbian state in the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, Bosnia. It was sourced from two appeal chamber decisions in the trial of the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
Hartmann's trial on two counts of contempt will take place from Monday to Wednesday this week.
Supporters, including fellow journalists, are circulating a petition on the Internet for the case to be dropped, and are planning a demonstration outside the court as well as in Geneva and Sarajevo on Monday.
"Mrs. Florence Hartmann was merely doing her duty as a journalist, by rigorously searching for and publicising the truth," states the document.
"In ordering Mrs. Hartmann to appear before a court set up to ... judge the perpetrators of genocide, this prosecution will tarnish the image of the international justice system."
Hartmann risks a jail term of up to seven years or a fine of 100,000 euros (about 139,000 dollars).
She refused to enter a plea on her first appearance in November last year, prompting the tribunal to enter a not guilty plea on her behalf.
The court has to date fined four journalists for contempt, one of whom also served a three-month jail sentence, for revealing the identities of protected witnesses.
Date created : 2009-06-15