Spanish court dismisses charges against US soldiers for killing journalist in Iraq

The National Court of Spain July 14 dismissed charges against three US soldiers who were accused of being involved in the death of Spanish cameraman José Couso. The soldiers allegedly opened fire on a Baghdad hotel frequented by Western journalists in 2003 without provocation, killing two cameramen.

The court recommended that the case be closed because Judge Santiago Pedraz Gómez, who reinstated the charges in May, had produced no new evidence against the soldiers. Homicide charges filed against Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip DeCamp were initially dropped in 2007 due to a lack of evidence. US authorities have claimed that the attack was in response to hostile fire and was consistent with the rules of combat.

Gomez ordered the soldiers’ arrest in October 2005 after initiating investigations into the incident in June of that year. The order was reversed by a panel of judges for the National Court in 2006. This reversal was then overturned by Spain’s Supreme Court, resulting in arrest warrants being reissued in January 2007. The soldiers were indicted in April of that year. (Jurist, July 14)

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