Cheryl Seal
Spanish Judge Issues Warrant for 3 US Soldiers
Wed Oct 19, 2005 15:44

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant Wednesday, charging three U.S. soldiers with murder in the death of a Spanish television cameraman in Baghdad.

Jose Couso was killed as U.S. forces advanced to take control of the Iraqi capital in April 2003, a National Court spokeswoman said.

National Court investigating magistrate Santiago Pedraz issued the warrant for the arrests of the three soldiers and their eventual extradition to Spain.

They are wanted on charges of murder and a crime against the international community, according to the warrant.

The warrant names the three soldiers as Sgt. Thomas Gibson, commander of the tank that allegedly fired a projectile at the hotel where Couso was filming; Capt. Philip Wolford, Gibson's superior; and Lt. Col. Philip D. Camp, the captain's superior, CNN partner network CNN+ reported.

The arrest warrant says the United States provided "no judicial cooperation" in the investigation of the cameraman's death. Couso worked for Spain's Telecinco national network.

Couso was shooting images of war-torn Baghdad at the Hotel Palestine on April 8, 2003, at the time of the strike.

The hotel -- where many international journalists were based -- was hit by a tank shell. Telecinco said Couso died during surgery afterward. Taras Protsyuk, a Ukranian cameraman for Reuters, also was killed.

A Pentagon report said that the American troops had thought that an Iraqi scout was directing fire from the building and that they had not violated any rules of engagement during the incident.

Couso's family has waged a campaign calling for an independent investigation into the cameraman's death.

An attorney for Couso's family told CNN+ that she doubted the arrest warrant would have much practical effect. She said she understood that the United States would not extradite the men and that they stood little chance of arrest unless they left the United States.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, 37 journalists have been killed in Iraq since March 2003.

The committee's investigation found that the shelling of the hotel was not deliberate but could have been avoided.


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