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Spain court reopens probe into 2003 journalist death in Iraq

The Spanish Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] on Tuesday ordered a lower court to reopen the investigation into the death of Spanish cameraman Jose Couso [advocacy website, in Spanish] who was mortally wounded by US tank fire in Iraq in 2003. Details as to why the court decided to reopen the investigation are not yet available. The Spanish National Court [CJA backgrounder] in November dismissed charges against three US soldiers who were accused of being involved in Couso's death and recommended the case be closed because no new evidence had been produced since Judge Santiago Pedraz Gomez [JURIST news archive] reinstated the charges [JURIST report] in May 2009. 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 [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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