US troops to be quizzed over journalist's death

7th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

7 June 2005, MADRID — A Spanish judge is to interrogate three United States soldiers in connection with the death of a Spanish cameraman in a Baghdad hotel during the Iraq invasion.

7 June 2005

MADRID — A Spanish judge is to interrogate three United States soldiers in connection with the death of a Spanish cameraman in a Baghdad hotel during the Iraq invasion.

Judge Santiago Pedraz, who sits in Spain's supreme court or Audiencia Nacional, is to go to the US to question the soldiers about the death of Tele 5 cameraman Jose Couso in April 2003.

Couso and Ukrainian Taras Protsyuk, who worked for Reuters, were killed when a US tank shelled the Palestine Hotel, home to the Baghdad international press corps.

The judge will question Sergeant Thomas Gibson, who fired the shot, Captain Philip Wolford, his superior officer who gave the order to fire, and lieutenant colonel Philip de Camp who ordered the attack on the hotel.

The hearing could take place in either Spain or the US.

David Couso, brother of Couso, hailed the decision to launch an "impartial" investigation.

"Better late than never and even though we now see there is some chance of justice, we know it will be more difficult than ever," he said.

Media campaigners had urged the US government to reopen an inquiry into the deaths of the journalists.

The French-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the shelling of the Palestine Hotel in April 2003 was an act of "criminal negligence" by military authorities.

In its report, RSF said the deaths of Couso and Protsyuk needed to be investigated again.

RSF said senior military commanders did not inform the tank's crew there were journalists in the hotel and that it should not have been targeted.

"The shooting at this building was... an act of criminal negligence" on the part of US military authorities, the report said, exonerating the soldiers in the tank.

An official investigation concluded that the hotel was legitimately targeted in an act of self-defence, but RSF said the government's version of events was "a lie".

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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