Two Judges Removed From Hartmann Case

They are disqualified because of their “active involvement” in investigation of French journalist.

Two Judges Removed From Hartmann Case

They are disqualified because of their “active involvement” in investigation of French journalist.

Monday, 6 April, 2009
A special panel ruled this week that two judges set to preside over the contempt trial of journalist Florence Hartmann should be removed from the case.



The panel’s decision comes nearly two months after Hartmann’s defence team filed a motion claiming that the judges assigned to her case “lacked an appearance of impartiality”.



The motion, filed confidentially on February 3 and made public on February 6, alleged that the trial judges assigned to Hartmann’s case “supervised and partook in all aspects of the investigation and preparation of this prosecution”.



The disqualified judges – Carmel Agius and Alphons Orie – were part of the chamber that first asked the registry to investigate Hartmann and then issued the charges against her.



“The investigation was done at the behest, in the name of, and under the supervision of the Trial Chamber,” stated the defence motion.



Bruce McFarlane, the independent investigator assigned to look into allegations against Hartmann, later became the prosecutor on her case. He was an “investigative proxy” for the judges, alleged the defence.



Hartmann, a former spokeswoman for the Hague tribunal’s chief prosecutor, is charged with two counts of contempt for revealing confidential information pertaining to two appeals chamber decisions issued in 2005 and 2006, during the trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.



She allegedly disclosed the confidential information in her 2007 book, Peace and Punishment, and in an article, Vital Genocide Documents Concealed, which was published on the Bosnian Institute website on January 21, 2008.



Her trial, originally slated to begin on February 5, was suspended pending an investigation into the defence allegations, to be conducted by a special panel of judges appointed by Hague tribunal president Patrick Robinson.



In their decision this week, the special panel wrote that while the defence did not provide sufficient evidence “demonstrating the subjective partiality” of the judges, the panel acknowledged that the relationship between the judges and McFarlane “may lead an objective observer to conclude that the chamber has an interest in the investigation and prosecution of the case against Ms Hartmann”.



Therefore, they wrote that judges Agius and Orie should be disqualified because of their “active involvement… in the directing the course and parameters of the investigation… beyond the extent of giving general, generic or purely administrative instructions”.



Prior to the panel’s decision this week, Hartmann’s lawyer, Karim Khan, filed a motion on March 24 asking Robinson for “leave to be heard” regarding the continuation of the case, should the special panel decide to remove any of the judges.



Since it is up to Robinson to assign new judges to the case, Khan wrote that “it would be in the interests of justice [for the president] to hear the defence” before a decision is made to continue proceedings.



Khan declined to comment publicly on Hartmann’s case.



Robinson dismissed the motion on March 30, saying he lacked authority to hear the defence on the matter.



On April 2, he appointed judges Mehmet Guney and Liu Daquin to replace Agius and Orie.



No trial date has been set.



Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.
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