Family of Spanish cameraman killed in Iraq to file suit

3rd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The family of a Spanish cameraman killed by US shell fire in Baghdad in 2003 will demand the case be reopened following the release of WikiLeaks documents indicating US pressure on Spain to drop it, their lawyer said Friday.

The family will file a suit next week that will include the WikiLeaks material, based on US diplomatic cables and published by the newspaper El Pais, said the lawyer for the family of Jose Couso, Enrique Santiago.

The family will demand a reopening of the investigation to establish if some of the details were released to those outside the case, which is "expressly forbidden" under Spanish law, he said.

Couso, who worked for Spanish network Telecinco, and a Reuters cameraman, Ukrainian-born Taras Protsyuk, were killed when a US tank shelled a Baghdad hotel in April 2003.

Spanish courts have twice opened and closed the investigation into Couso's death, in 2006 and 2009.

El Pais on Tuesday published Wikileaks documents that said American diplomats put heavy pressure on Spanish authorities to drop the probe.

Washington has maintained that the three soldiers held responsible -- Sergeant Shawn Gibson, Captain Philip Wolford and Lieutenant Colonel Philip DeCamp -- acted appropriately in circumstances of war.

Last July, Spanish judge Santiago Pedraz reissued international arrest warrants for the three US soldiers.

But last October the judge said that the three had "avoided international detention orders" because the international police agency Interpol had ruled that the alleged crimes were of a military character.

The El Pais report said that former US ambassador Eduardo Aguirre, who held the post during the George W. Bush administration, "personally exerted multiple pressure on the Spanish government and judicial authorities" to close the Couso investigation, along with two others that targeted the United States.

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba Friday denied that the government had ever "interfered or exerted pressure on the courts, judges or prosecutors."

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article