AP, July 24, 2008
Kosovo editor fined for naming witness
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal convicted and fined an award-winning journalist euro7,000 (US$11,000) Thursday for publishing the name of a witness who testified anonymously in the trial of Kosovo's former prime minister.
Baton Haxhiu, editor of the daily Kosovo Express, was convicted of contempt of court for endangering the witness and his family. The witness had testified at the trial of former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj under a pseudonym and with his face and voice distorted.
Haradinaj was acquitted of all charges of war crimes allegedly committed in 1998 against Serbs and their supporters in Kosovo. Judges said his trial was overshadowed by repeated cases of witness intimidation.
Haxhiu pleaded not guilty to contempt of court. He argued that the witness' identity was already known.
Presiding judge Alfons Orie said Haxhiu's actions undermined confidence in the tribunal's protective measures and could dissuade witnesses from cooperating with the tribunal.
The editor had faced a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment and a euro100,000 (US$157,000) fine. He is one of six Kosovo Albanians charged with contempt of court in the trial of Haradinaj and two other defendants, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj.
Haxhiu previously had appeared at the tribunal as a prosecution witness in two other trials, including the genocide case against former Yugoslav President leader Slobodan Milosevic. Orie said judges took his previous cooperation with prosecutors into account when setting his fine.
In 1999, Haxhiu was honored with an International Press Freedom Award by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, for his impartial reporting of the crisis in Kosovo and for publishing the independent Pristina daily Koha Ditore, despite harassment and death threats.