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Hague verdict for ex-spokeswoman

By Mark Lowen
BBC News, Belgrade

Former ICTY spokeswoman Florence Hartmann
Ms Hartmann described top-level talks about the Bosnia peace deal

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague is due to deliver a verdict on a former official court spokeswoman.

French journalist Florence Hartmann, who held the post for six years, is accused of contempt of court.

She is charged with disclosing the existence of confidential documents on Serbian government involvement in the Bosnian war of the 1990s.

The documents were discussed in a book and article published by Ms Hartmann.

The confidential documents in question were only released by Belgrade for the trial of the former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

But Florence Hartmann argued that they should have been made available during a separate trial at the International Court of Justice in which Bosnia unsuccessfully tried to sue Serbia for genocide.

Ms Hartmann's defence counsel says that other journalists had written about the documents before her publications and that this case is merely intended to set a legal precedent.

If convicted, Florence Hartmann faces up to seven years in jail or a fine of almost £90,000 ($150,000).

The precise content of the documents has never been made public, but they are thought to chronicle contacts between the Serbian government and the Bosnian Serb army.

Ms Hartmann maintains they could prove a link between Belgrade and war crimes committed in Bosnia - most notably the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys at the Bosnian village of Srebrenica in 1995.

Critics of the case say that such papers should never have been the subject of a confidentiality order in the first place.

The tribunal argues that it has the right to prevent documents from being leaked and that Florence Hartmann, as a permanent employee, was fully aware of the court's rules and procedures.



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