Courtside: Newspaper Contempt Charge

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 307, 31 March – 4 April 2003)

Courtside: Newspaper Contempt Charge

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 307, 31 March – 4 April 2003)

Tuesday, 22 February, 2005

He is accused of revealing the identity of a protected witness last October who gave evidence in the Slobodan Milosevic trial.


If found guilty, he faces a maximum seven year jail sentence or fine of 106,000 US dollars – or both.


“Witness K32 has received death threats since his identity was made public,” said tribunal spokesman Jim Landale.


“The trial chamber will order [Jovanovic’s] arrest if he fails to appear for proceedings.”


This is the first time the tribunal has gone beyond threats and issued an indictment over the naming of witnesses.


The issue is a serious one: Many witnesses literally risk their lives by giving testimony in war crimes trials.


Witnesses appearing at recent trials have given detailed information about the inner workings of key Serbian state institutions – the kind of information that could lead to long sentences for powerful warlords.


Jovanovic will now have to come to The Hague to stand trial. He told reporters this week he intended to comply with the tribunal’s instructions.


Witness K32 appeared last October, his image distorted for television coverage of the trial.


He told the court that he had been a truck driver with a Yugoslav army unit in the Kosovo town of Prizren during fighting in 1998 and 1999.


K32, a Muslim from Montenegro, told the court that men from his units had committed war crimes by executing ethnic Albanian civilians.


Chris Stephen is IWPR's project manager in The Hague.


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