French journalist jailed by Karadzic tribunal released early

War reporter Florence Hartmann was serving one-week sentence for contempt of court

Florence Hartmann, former spokeswoman of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, being arrested last Thursday before the reading of the verdict of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic in The Hague. Photograph: Robin van Lonkhuijsen/AFP/Getty Images

Florence Hartmann, former spokeswoman of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, being arrested last Thursday before the reading of the verdict of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic in The Hague. Photograph: Robin van Lonkhuijsen/AFP/Getty Images

 

A former prosecution spokeswoman for the UN court trying alleged criminals from the 1990s Balkan wars has been released early from the jail where she had been serving a one-week sentence for contempt of court, the tribunal said on Tuesday.

Florence Hartmann, who reported for French newspaper Le Monde on the wars that accompanied the collapse of multi-ethnic Yugoslavia, was arrested by UN officials as she sought to attend the sentencing of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic last Thursday.

In a ruling, the presiding judge of the Yugoslavia tribunal’s legal successor said her good behaviour meant Hartmann was eligible for release after serving two thirds of her seven-day sentence – on Tuesday rather than Thursday.

“Hartmann’s completion of more than two-thirds of her sentence and her exemplary conduct in the UNDU are factors that favour her early release,” wrote Theodor Meron, the court’s American chief justice.

She was convicted in 2009 of revealing confidential trial information in a book on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and was fined €7,000. In 2011, judges converted that into a seven-day jail term for non-payment.

Hartmann claims her book revealed attempts by the court to cover up Serbia’s responsibility for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys – Europe’s worst massacre since the second World War .

France and the Netherlands have both ignored requests by the court to extradite her since her sentencing, and she has lived freely in France for the past five years, visiting the Netherlands on at least one occasion.

Her arrest, which took place outside the court’s headquarters in The Hague in front of dozens of journalists and Bosnian victims gathered for Karadzic’s sentencing, drew condemnation from some press freedom campaigners.

“The penalty imposed on her for her action as a whistle-blower is wholly disproportionate,” Jerome Fenoglio, director of Le Monde, wrote on Monday, calling for her swift release.

Reuters