The contempt case of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon against Al-Jadeed S.A.L. and Karma Khayat is not unprecedented because international criminal courts and tribunals have rules under which persons can be held responsible for contempt.
At the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, for example, there have been 25 such cases involving different kinds of prohibited behavior. Several individuals –including journalists - were convicted of knowingly and wilfully interfering with the administration of justice by disclosing confidential information about protected witnesses.
Some individuals were also found guilty for refusing to appear as witnesses, for refusing to answer a question as a witness before a Chamber or for providing false statements.
Two Defense counsel were convicted of procuring false witness statements and for bribing witnesses by encouraging false statements in exchange for payment. (See http://www.icty.org/action/con temptcases/27#casetabs for an overview of the contempt cases at the ICTY)
The Special Court for Sierra Leone issued judgments in seven contempt cases. Individuals were charged with threatening and intimidating a protected witness and/ or tampering with witnesses who had given evidence in prior proceedings by offering a bribe to him/her. (See http://www.rscsl.org/contempt2005-01.html)
In 2013, six individuals – including members of a Defense team - were charged before the International Criminal Court for corruptly influencing witnesses, attempting subordination of witnesses and witness tampering. (See http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/ situations%20and%20cases/situations/situation%20 icc%200105/related%20cases/ICC-0105-0113/Pages/ default.aspx)
On Friday, STL Judge Nicola Lettieri found both Khayat and Al-Jadeed S.A.L. “not guilty with respect to the charges under count 1 of the order in lieu of indictment,” said the court.
But Lettieri found Khayat guilty and Al Jadeed S.A.L. not guilty with respect to the charges under count 2.
The charges of contempt include having allegedly broadcast information relating to purported confidential witnesses in a series of programs. In addition, they are charged with having allegedly violated a court order by failing to remove that information from Al Jadeed TV’s website and YouTube channel despite an order by the STL PreTrial Judge to do so.
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