Jan. 14, 2006

UN court orders U.S. company to muzzle secret testimony

UN court orders U.S. company to muzzle secret testimony A Croatian journalist charged by the UN war crimes tribunal with contempt of court for publishing the secret testimony of a protected witness on the Internet on Friday moved his website to a U.S. server and host, prompting the tribunal to issue an order demanding the California company terminate the site. Domagoj Margetic on Wednesday posted on his personal website what appeared to be testimony by Croatian President Stipe Mesic during the 1997 trial of former Bosnian Croat general Tihomir Blaskic, press reports said. By early Thursday, the audio recording of the testimony posted on Margetic's website was blocked by police order, police official Marijan Benko said. The Zagreb county court on Thursday issued an order to close down and terminate Margetic's website, www.domagojmargetic.com. Margetic then switched the information on his website--including the secret testimony--to a U.S.-based server and host, www.lunarpages.com, located in California. "I believe that the United States will prevent the UN war crimes tribunal from trampling on basic press freedoms," Margetic said. "The ball is now in America's court. I believe that as a journalist the U.S. will not allow this assault on freedom of information to happen." The Zagreb-based Vjecerni List reports that the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague will issue a court order to the California firm to take down and remove Margetic's website. Meanwhile, Mesic's office said the president wanted to remove the secrecy from his testimony. "Mesic agreed that Zagreb asks from the UN court to remove the notion of secrecy from his testimony in order that it becomes available to the Croatian public," his spokeswoman Danijela Barisic told AFP. Last year the UN tribunal in The Hague charged Margetic, a former journalist with the conservative Hrvatsko Slovo newspaper, four other Croatian journalists and the country's former intelligence chief with contempt of court for revealing the identity of a witness during the trial. The witness was Mesic, according to local media. They have all pleaded not guilty.

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