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Journalist Facing Contempt Charges Before Tribunal

Kosovo journalist facing contempt charges before UN war crimes tribunal

20 May 2008 - A Kosovo Albanian journalist is being brought before the United Nations war crimes tribunal set up to deal with the war crimes committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s on charges of contempt of court after he allegedly identified a secret witness in a trial.

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) allege that Baton Haxhiu, the editor of a newspaper last year, obtained information about a witness with a protected identity and then revealed the witness' identity in an article he published.

Mr. Haxhiu was arrested today, the ICTY said in a press statement issued in The Hague, and will now be transferred to the detention unit of the tribunal. He is expected to enter a plea tomorrow.

Mr. Haxhiu is the third Kosovo Albanian to be charged with contempt of court in the past month, with all three cases relating to the recent trial of Ramush Haradinaj, the former prime minister of Kosovo, and others.

On 25 April, Astrit Haraqija and Bajrush Morina were indicted for allegedly attempting to persuade a witness with the codename PW not to testify against Mr. Haradinaj. The duo has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has been granted provisional release until the trial begins next month.

Mr. Haradinaj, who was a prominent commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the conflict with Serb forces in 1998-99, was acquitted by the ICTY last month of a series of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, torture, abduction, cruel treatment, imprisonment and the forced deportation of Serbian and Kosovar Roma civilians.

When they announced the verdict, the judges said the tribunal had encountered many difficulties in securing testimony from witnesses during the trials of Mr. Haradinaj and his two co-accused.

Earlier this month prosecutors filed an appeal in the Haradinaj case, describing what they called the "prevailing circumstances of intimidation and fear."

ENDS

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