Spanish Judge Issues Warrant for Three GIs
A Spanish judge has issued an arrest warrant for three American soldiers who accidentally killed a Spanish cameraman in Iraq in 2003.
A judge has issued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers whose tank fired on a Baghdad hotel during the Iraq war, killing a Spanish journalist and one other, a court official said Wednesday. Judge Santiago Pedraz issued the warrant for Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp, all from the U.S. 3rd Infantry.
Jose Couso, who worked for the Spanish television network Telecinco, died April 8, 2003, after a U.S. army tank crew fired a shell on Hotel Palestine in Baghdad where several journalists were staying to cover the war. Reuters cameraman Taras Portsyuk, a Ukrainian, also was killed.
The Spanish judge said he issued the arrest order because of a lack of judicial cooperation from the United States regarding the case.
Clearly, American soldiers are not answerable to Spanish courts for actions that occured in Iraq. My knowledge of the Spanish legal system is minimal but one presumes this will be reversed by saner heads.
There is zero question of criminal intent on the part of the soldiers here. Even aside from the fact that they have been cleared by other investigations, the rationale for intentionally killing allied journalists in the midsts of a then-smashing victory is hard to fathom.
That said, I can understand why Spain would be frustrated by the inability to conduct their own thorough investigation of the matter. There are, however, no simple solutions. Giving individual state courts the authority to indict foreign soldiers for actions in a third state is a non-starter. Having a pre-established international tribunal is theoretically quite reasonable. Unfortunately, that would only work if membership were limited to states with established traditions of democracy and rule of law. That, too, would seem a non-starter.