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Spanish judge issues arrest warrant for US troops

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ghostrider, Oct 19, 2005.

  1. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    Spanish judge issues arrest warrant for US troops
    MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish High Court judge issued international arrest warrants on Wednesday for three U.S. soldiers in connection with the death of a Spanish cameraman during the war in Iraq.

    "I order the ... capture and arrest of the U.S. soldiers, with a view to extradition," High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz said in a court document, adding the order would be submitted to the international police organization Interpol.

    The three men were named as Sergeant Thomas Gibson, Captain Philip Wolford and Lieutenant Colonel Philip De Camp.

    The United States has cleared the men of any blame, although it acknowledges a shell was fired from their tank into the Palestine Hotel where Telecinco cameraman Jose Couso and Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk were killed. A U.S. investigation concluded the men were justified in opening fire.

    Three other Reuters staff were seriously injured in the shelling of the hotel, the base for almost all foreign journalists in Baghdad at the time. The incident occurred a day before U.S. troops captured the city.

    Pedraz said an investigation had shown the three soldiers involved in the tank attack on April 8, 2003 could be responsible for murder and crimes against the international community.

    The charges carry jail sentences of 15 to 20 years and 10 to 15 years respectively.

    The judge said he issued the warrants because U.S. authorities had refused to cooperate. The court had twice asked American officials for help, requesting documents and offering to send a legal team to the United States to take statements from the three men.

    But neither request had been answered and he said the warrants were "the only effective measure to ensure the accused are made available to Spanish judicial authorities."

    U.S. officials have said it is very unlikely their soldiers will be allowed to be questioned by a foreign court.

    "I just cannot imagine how any U.S. soldier can be subject to some kind of foreign proceeding for criminal liability when he is in a tank in a war zone as part of an international coalition," a U.S. State Department official, who asked not to be named, said in June.

    The High Court took up the case after Couso's family filed a complaint. It would have jurisdiction only over his death.

    Spain has a record of tackling controversial human rights cases. The High Court failed to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet but earlier this year convicted Argentine former navy captain Adolfo Scilingo for crimes against humanity for his role in that country's so-called dirty war.
  2. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Spanish judge issues arrest warrants for 3 U.S. soldiers

    WASHINGTON - A Spanish judge issued international arrest warrants Wednesday for three U.S. soldiers for an incident in which a U.S. tank fired on a Baghdad hotel during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and killed two journalists.

    High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz issued the warrants for Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip deCamp, charging them with murder and violating the Geneva Conventions in the death of Spanish cameraman Jose Couso. He requested that they be extradited to Spain for interrogation.

    Couso, a cameraman for the Spanish network Telecino, and Taras Protsyuk, a Ukrainian cameraman for Reuters, were killed April 8, 2003, after a U.S. M-1 Abrams tank from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division fired a high-explosive shell at the Palestine Hotel, where many foreign journalists were covering the battle.

    Pedraz said he issued the warrants because he hasn't received U.S. authorities' cooperation in his investigation, which he opened in 2003 over the objections of Spain's attorney general, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

    A military investigation in August 2003 cleared the three soldiers of any wrongdoing, saying that they acted properly because they believed they were firing on enemy troops. While the Pentagon declined to comment on any legal issues surrounding the case, officials again stood by the findings, saying that the three soldiers had acted "in accordance with the rules of engagement."

    "The United States has the deepest sympathies for those who were killed," said Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman. But "the investigation of the incident ... was complete and thorough. The investigation found that the tank ... properly fired on suspected enemy hunter-killer team in a proportionate and justifiably measured response."

    None of the three soldiers could be located for comment, and it's highly unlikely that they would be extradited to Spain to answer the charges. Jennifer Scales, a spokeswoman for Fort Stewart, Ga., where the 3rd Infantry Division is based, said they were no longer assigned to the post.

    In Spain, there are weekly demonstrations over Couso's death outside the U.S. Embassy in Madrid.

    Bryan Sierra, a spokesman for the Justice Department, which handles requests for overseas extradition, said it would be "completely premature" to say how the United States would respond to the warrants. He said the Justice Department hadn't received a request for extradition.

    The Spanish judge's actions are part of a broad effort by some European legal authorities to pursue what they call universal jurisdiction or universal justice. The theory holds that countries have the right to bring to justice anyone, regardless of nationality, accused of carrying out crimes of international concern - genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    In June, for example, Italian authorities issued arrest warrants for 13 people they claimed were agents "linked to the CIA." They're accused of abducting an Islamic cleric in Milan in 2003 and flying him to Egypt for interrogation.

    The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which investigated the killing of the two journalists in Baghdad, found that the attack wasn't deliberate but could have been avoided. Spokeswoman Judy Blanks said the group wanted to know why U.S. soldiers weren't aware that the Palestine Hotel was full of journalists during the invasion.

    According to the organization, 56 journalists have been killed in the Iraq war, at least 13 of them by U.S. fire.

    The Washington Office on Latin America, a rights group that tries to seek justice over murders and disappearances across Latin America, was uneasy with Pedraz's ruling. While not endorsing the actions of U.S. soldiers, rights expert Gaston Chiller said the killing of the journalists didn't appear to be systematic and orchestrated like the political murders of right-wing dictatorships.

    "I have a concern that it (the ruling) ... undermines the concept of universal jurisdiction," Chiller said.
  3. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

  4. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    done deal, merged
  5. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    You know, the interesting thing is that a Journalist in a war zone thinks that he has some sort of protection rights? I would just tell Spain to kiss our asses, their day of glory ended right after the conquistadors and the Spanish inquisition. I don't have anything good to say about Spainiards after having to give them a tour in Kosovo. They were insufferable and pompous. I had more respect for the French than the Spainiards! Then to walk out of Iraq because of threats, only to get bombed anyway. OK, my soapbox for the day.
  6. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

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