Spanish judge re-issues arrest warrants for US soldiers

29th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish judge re-issued international arrest warrants on Thursday for three US soldiers over the death of a Spanish TV cameraman in Iraq seven years ago by American tank fire.

National Court judge Santiago Pedraz's move followed a decision by Spain's Supreme Court earlier this month to reopen an inquiry into the death of Jose Couso during the shelling by US forces of a Baghdad hotel in April 2003.

The tank fire also killed a Reuters cameraman, Ukrainian-born Taras Protsyuk.

Pedraz also requested permission from Spain's judicial oversight board to travel to Iraq to view the site where the two men were killed, according to a copy of the court order viewed by AFP.

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 enquiry 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 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

0 Comments To This Article