Spanish judge allowed go to Iraq to probe cameraman's death

14th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spain's judicial oversight board approved on Tuesday a Spanish judge's request to travel to Iraq to investigate the death of a Spanish TV cameraman killed by US tank fire seven years ago.

National Court judge Santiago Pedraz asked for permission to go to Baghdad to view the site where Jose Couso, who worked for Spanish network Telecinco, was killed, after the Supreme Court in July re-opened an inquiry into his death.

Couso and a Reuters cameraman, Ukrainian-born Taras Protsyuk, were killed during shelling by US forces of a Baghdad hotel in April 2003.

Pedraz in July also re-issued international arrest warrants for the three US soldiers held responsible for the shelling.

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

A US inquiry carried out in 2004 found no fault or negligence on the part of US troops.

In 2006 Spain's National Court, which handles crimes against humanity and genocide, threw out an initial probe into the killing of Couso, saying it was an act of war and not premeditated.

The Supreme Court overruled this at the family's request and reopened the case, with a judge arguing that the soldiers knew that the Palestine Hotel and the area where it was located was occupied by civilians.

But the National Court last year again threw out the case, dropping murder charges against the three soldiers who had been in the tank.

Spain's Supreme Court ordered the re-opening of the inquiry for a second time on July 6 after another appeal from Couso's family.

© 2010 AFP

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