The Spanish government wants a three-man US army tank crew to stand trial for the death of cameraman Jose Couso in Baghdad in 2003. Couso was killed on April 8 2003 when he was hit by a shell from a US Mark I Abrams tank that fired at the Hotel Palestine in Baghdad, which at the time was a civil zone and used by reporters.

High Court judge Santiago Pedraz has issued three international arrest warrants for the soldiers after they fired at the Telecinco employee, fatally wounding him. It is the third time that Spain has issued arrest warrants for Sergeant Thomas Gibson, Captain Philip Wolford and Lieutenant Colonel Philip de Camp.

The Spanish Supreme Court decided at the beginning of July to reopen the investigation into Couso’s death. The highest court in Spain accepted an appeal made by Couso’s family in the case. The judge has now issued a “find and capture” warrant for the tank crew on the basis that “they can be deemed to have committed a crime against the international community,” which amounts to homicide.

The Ministry of the Interior has confirmed that the detention order has been sent to Interpol via the Policia Nacional. This means that nations which are members of the Interpol network are obliged to detain the three troopers if they are in their jurisdiction.

The High Court has called on the US government to make available all documentation on the incident and to present declarations along with the three tank crew.

The ruling has been welcomed by the four journalists who witnessed to the attack that resulted in Couso’s death – Olga Rodriguez, Carlos Hernandez, Jon Sistiaga and Jesus Quinonero. They have stated their willingness to travel to Iraq with the judge and to go to the bridge and hotel with him. They say that the tank fired from a position from which it would clearly have been able to see the signs for the hotel as well as the word “press” on the flak jackets worn by the journalists.

Source: Morning Star 0n-line