17 Nov Hell Hath No Fury Like a Tribunal Scorned (Updated)
According to AFP, the ICTY has issued an “arrest warrant” for Florence Hartmann for failing to pay the fine she received for her 2009 contempt conviction:
The UN Yugoslav war crimes court issued an arrest warrant Wednesday against a former spokeswoman for the tribunal’s chief prosecutor for refusing to pay a 7,000-euro ($10,000) fine.
Florence Hartmann, a French national, was found guilty of contempt in 2009 for disclosing confidential details of the trial of the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
“The French Republic is hereby directed and authorised to search for, arrest, detain and surrender promptly to the tribunal, Florence Hartmann,” the Hague-based court said in an order.
Her fine “has been converted to a term of seven days of imprisonment,” it added.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found her guilty of contempt in September 2009 for having “knowingly and wilfully interfered with the administration of justice”.
Hartmann was prosecuted for writing about two confidential appeals chamber decisions in a 2007 book she authored on the ICTY and in a later published article.
I’m not sure what authority the ICTY has to order France to arrest Hartmann. I’m even less sure what authority it has to summarily “convert” her punishment two years after the fact from a fine to imprisonment. Then again, the statute also says nothing about punishing contempt or imposing a fine on a convicted defendant, so I imagine the judges believe that the latest order is simply a manifestation of the their inherent power to ensure the integrity of the ICTY’s proceedings. But it’s still troubling — especially the ex post facto conversion of her punishment.
Legal considerations aside, this is the latest terrible PR move by the ICTY. Prosecuting Hartmann for revealing information that was already in the public domain was bad enough. Convicting her was even worse. Attempting to imprison her for failing to pay her fine is completely over the top. I’m sure there is some mechanism in French law to force Hartmann to pay; there is no need to try to imprison her. This is obviously yet another attempt by the ICTY to punish Hartmann for having the temerity to violate her confidentiality agreement. But all it does is make the tribunal look petty and vindictive.
Hat-Tip: OUP’s John Louth.
UPDATE: Jannek is quite right (in the comments) that r. 77 and r. 77bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence permit the fine and the conversion of the fine into imprisonment. I should have mentioned the rules in the post — but I don’t think they answer the legal question. A rule permitting a penalty not provided for in the ICTY statute is not a rule of procedure; it is a new substantive rule. The same is true of permitting the conversion of one penalty into a different penalty. I would argue, therefore, that both provisions are ultra vires.
Then again, the rule permitting the judges to punish contempt is also clearly substantive, and the Security Council never complained about that!