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Spain judge upholds charges against US soldiers in Iraq death of journalist

[JURIST] Spanish judge Santiago Pedraz ruled Thursday that charges against three US soldiers for 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] should stand, despite the appeal [JURIST report] of Spanish prosecutors on behalf of the soldiers that the death was an "accident of war." A US military investigation of the incident concluded that the soldiers did not act improperly when their tank fired a shell into the Baghdad Hotel, because the tank crew reasonably believed that there was a spotter in the hotel directing hostile fire. Pedraz ruled, however, that the soldiers acted in a disproportionate manner because even if a spotter was in the hotel, "it was not an attack on US forces" and the soldiers were aware that journalists and persons protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention [text] were inside the hotel.

Spain has issued several arrest warrants [JURIST report] for the three soldiers, but the United States has refused to extradite Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford, and Lt. Col. Philip DeCamp [TrialWatch profiles]. The first warrant was issued [JURIST report] in October 2005 after a Spanish judge said that US officials had failed to cooperate in an investigation into the incident [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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