[JURIST] Spanish National Court Judge Santiago Pedraz issued an arrest warrant [text, in Spanish; PDF] Thursday for three US troops suspected of gunning down Spanish journalist Juse Couso [advocacy website, JURIST news archive] in Iraq. Couso, a television cameraman, was killed in 2003 when a US tank fired into the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. The 3rd Division infantrymen named in the warrant, Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp, maintain that they fired into the hotel at what they thought was an enemy combatant because they were being fired upon. A US military investigation has cleared them of wrongdoing, and US officials have said they will not extradite the soldiers. Pedraz said that he issued the warrant because the matter “may constitute a crime against the international community,” and US officials have not cooperated in Spanish investigations into the incident.
Earlier this month, the Spanish Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] ordered a lower court to reopen the investigation [JURIST report] into Couso’s death. Pedraz reinstated the homicide charges [JURIST report] in May 2009 after they were dropped in 2007 due to lack of evidence. Pedraz initially ordered [text, in Spanish; JURIST report] the soldiers’ arrest in 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. The 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 that year.