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Kosovo Journalist Guilty, Contempt At UN Tribunal

Kosovo journalist found guilty of contempt at UN war crimes tribunal

24 July 2008 - The United Nations tribunal set up to try those responsible for atrocities committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s today convicted a Kosovo journalist of contempt of court for publishing details about a protected witness who testified at the trial of Kosovo's former prime minister.

Baton Haxhiu was also fined €7,000 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for revealing the identity of the witness, as well as his supposed whereabouts, in an article he wrote and published in Kosovo.

The Trial Chamber's judges were satisfied that Mr. Haxhiu - who had pled not guilty to the charge at his initial appearance in May - revealed this information knowing that he would be in violation of a court order.

"The Accused's conduct could have jeopardized the security of the Witness and his family and was of a kind to undermine confidence in the effectiveness of the Tribunal's protective measures orders, and to have the effect of dissuading witnesses from cooperating with the Tribunal," Judge Alfons Orie said today in the court.

"It is fundamental to the fulfillment of the Tribunal's mission that courageous individuals who come to tell their story before the Tribunal, often about traumatic or difficult experiences and away from their families and familiar surroundings, may apply to do so with the security provided by protective measures," the judgement read.

Mr. Haxhiu is one of three individuals charged with contempt for revealing confidential information about this witness during the trial of former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj - who was acquitted by the ICTY in April of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity - and others. The two others, Astrit Haraqija and Bajrush Morina are awaiting trial.

ENDS

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