Spanish Court Reorders Arrest of 3 U.S. Soldiers for Journo Killing in Iraq

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A Spanish judge on Tuesday reissued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. military personnel, wanted in the killing of a Spanish journalist who was hit by tank fire in Iraq.

Judge Santiago Pedraz filed the new order after the Supreme Court last month overruled an earlier National Court decision that Pedraz should end the probe into the killing of cameraman Jose Couso, a court spokeswoman said on customary condition of anonymity because of court rules.

Couso, who worked for Spanish television network Telecinco, was killed on April 8, 2003, after a U.S. army tank crew fired a shell at a Baghdad hotel where journalists were staying. Ukrainian Taras Portsyuk, a cameraman for Reuters, was also killed.

Pedraz first issued the arrest orders in October 2005, but the National Court in 2006 ruled that Spain lacked jurisdiction to examine causes of death in the Iraq military conflict. Couso’s family successfully appealed that ruling in the Supreme Court.

The orders concern Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp — all of the U.S. 3rd Infantry.

Colin Powell, who was U.S. secretary of state at the time, said American troops had opened fire after drawing hostile fire from the hotel, and that a U.S. review of the incident had found the use of force was justified.

In 2005, Pedraz said he issued arrest warrants because of a lack of judicial cooperation from the United States, after two requests for suspects’ statements went unanswered.

Although it was unlikely the three soldiers would be arrested in the United States, they could be arrested in any country that has an extradition accord with Spain.

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