Last Updated Wed, 19 Oct 2005 15:53:45 EDT
A judge in Spain has issued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers in the shelling of a hotel in Baghdad that killed a Spanish journalist.
High court Judge Santiago Pedraz issued the warrant on Wednesday for Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt.-Col. Philip de Camp, then of the U.S. 3rd Infantry.
Jose Couso, of the Spanish television network Telecinco, died on April 8, 2003, after a U.S. tank fired on the Hotel Palestine, where many foreign journalists were staying during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The shelling – which took place a day before the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime – also killed a Ukrainian cameraman working for Reuters and seriously injured three other journalists.
It was captured in TV footage and sparked worldwide controversy, as some critics – particularly in the Arab world – accused the United States of deliberately targeting journalists to try to intimidate them.
On the same day, U.S. bombs hit the Baghdad office of the Arab satellite news channel Al-Jazeera, killing a correspondent.
A U.S. investigation has cleared the men of any wrongdoing, saying that the soldiers believed they were returning fire in both incidents.
Journalists at the Palestine Hotel have said that no one was firing from the building and the TV footage didn't record any gunfire.
The judge said he issued the warrants because the United States refused to co-operate with the investigation, ignoring repeated requests to take statements from the suspects or let Spanish authorities interview them.
The arrest warrants will be submitted to the international policing organization Interpol.
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