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

[JURIST] The Spanish National Court [CJA backgrounder] on Tuesday dismissed charges against three US soldiers who were accused of being involved in the death of Spanish cameraman Jose Couso [advocacy website, in Spanish]. 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 [La Opinion Coruna report, in Spanish] because Judge Santiago Pedraz Gomez [JURIST news archive], who reinstated the charges [JURIST report] 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 [Trial Watch profiles] 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 [text, in Spanish; JURIST report] the soldiers' arrest in October 2005 after initiating investigations [JURIST report] 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 [JURIST report] in January 2007. The soldiers were indicted [JURIST report] in April of that year.

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