US says no to Spanish court over Couso death

14th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

14 February 2006, MADRID — US authorities have denied a petition from Spain to allow questioning of soldiers implicated in the death of Spanish TV cameraman Jose Couso in Baghdad in April 2003.

14 February 2006

MADRID —  US authorities have denied a petition from Spain to allow questioning of soldiers implicated in the death of Spanish TV cameraman Jose Couso in Baghdad in April 2003.

Court sources said Spanish judge Santiago Pedraz has notified plaintiffs in the case of the negative US response to his request to take statements from Sgt. Thomas Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp of the 3rd Armored Division of the US Infantry.

Couso, who worked for the Spanish television network Telecinco, and Ukrainian cameraman Taras Protsyuk of Reuters, were killed by a missile from a US tank as they were filming at Baghdad's Palestine Hotel.

Sources added that judicial authorities in the United States rejected Spanish jurisdiction in the matter and repeated the official version of the U.S. Army that the missile that hit Couso was launched returning enemy fire.

In November, Pedraz ruled that there was sufficient evidence to justify the lawsuit brought in May 2003 by relatives of the cameraman against the three US soldiers.

Almost a year ago Couso's brother Javier and others commemorated his death by placing half a dozen roses before the White House and observing a minute of silence outside the executive mansion.

"There has been nothing more than a pseudo-investigation by the US government and Army," said Couso.

Javier Couso said that his brother's death was "a war crime, and an attack against the free army of journalism".

For his part, Hollander said that "the investigation the United States carried out is full of lies.

"It's a coverup," he added. "There is proof that there had been no fighting in the area (around the hotel) for some 35 minutes."

According to eyewitnesses to the incident, a US positioned on a bridge near the Palestine Hotel pointed its heavy gun at one of the hotel's upper floors and fired one shot.

U.S. military authorities have admitted that the tank fired at the hotel, but they said that the tank commander ordered the attack after US took sniper fire from that building.

Couso added that "reading the US Army Operations Manual has given us new elements, like for example the understanding that (the tank crew) could not have fired on their own without authorization from their superiors.

"They had to request that authorization," he added.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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