UN tribunal directs France to arrest former spokesperson

16 November 2011

The United Nations tribunal set up in the wake of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s today ordered France to arrest a former tribunal spokesperson who has failed to pay a €7,000 fine imposed for contempt of court.

A five-judge appeals panel at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) “directed and authorized” France to search for, arrest and detain Florence Hartmann and surrender her to the tribunal, which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands.

Ms. Hartmann – who is a French national – was convicted in 2009 of contempt of court for publishing a book and writing an article which disclosed the contents, purported effect and confidential nature of two court decisions involving the former Serbian leader Slobodan Miloševic.

After losing her appeal in July this year, Ms. Hartmann had been ordered to pay her fine in two instalments of €3,500 each by mid-August and mid-September respectively.

Ms. Hartmann subsequently wrote to the tribunal saying she is indigent and unable to pay her fine, but that supporters of her have deposited the funds to pay the fine in a French bank account.

However, the tribunal’s finance department said it had yet to receive either instalment and the court stated that Ms. Hartmann was obligated to pay the fine in the exact manner prescribed.

Deeming the fine to have not been paid, the appeals chamber today decided to convert the fine into a term of imprisonment of seven days.

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