Spain prosecutors appeal indictment of US soldiers in Iraq death of journalist

[JURIST] Spanish National Court prosecutors Friday appealed investigating magistrate Santiago Pedraz's indictment of three US soldiers with homicide and "a crime against the international community" in the 2004 death in Iraq of cameraman Jose Couso [advocacy website, in English; JURIST news archive], saying that soldiers did not commit a crime because the death was an "accident of war." Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford, and Lt. Col. Philip DeCamp [TrialWatch profiles] were indicted in April [JURIST report] for their role in Couso's death, who was killed along with an Ukrainian journalist when the US soldiers' tank fired a shell on the Baghdad Hotel. Spanish investigating magistrates typically file charges and prosecutors can appeal indictments if they feel prosecution is inappropriate.

In 2003, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said the soldiers only fired in self-defense after shots were fired at them from the hotel, and a US review of the incident found that the soldiers did not act improperly. Spain has issued several warrants against the three [JURIST report], but the United States has refused to extradite them. The first warrant was issued [JURIST report] in October 2005 after a Spanish judge stated that US officials had failed to cooperate in an investigation into the incident [JURIST report] and did not respond to requests to question the soldiers [JURIST report]. The three are not the first US soldiers to be indicted in foreign courts for actions in Iraq. Earlier this month, US Army Spc. Mario Lozano was put on trial in absentia before an Italian court [JURIST report] for the murder of Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari and attempted murders of agent Andrea Carpani and Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena in Iraq after confusion at a US checkpoint after Sgrena's release by kidnappers. AP has more.



 

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