Family of slain cameraman seeks probe on WikiLeaks evidence

Monday, December 13, 2010

MADRID - The family of Spanish cameraman Jose Couso, who was killed in a US attack during the Iraq war, Monday asked Madrid prosecutors to investigate WikiLeaks evidence that two former Spanish ministers and high-placed prosecutors tried to block the family’s legal battle against the US.

The family wants to bring to trial those responsible for the death of Couso, who was killed when a US tank fired at a Baghdad hotel where journalists were staying in April 2003. A Spanish judge has ordered the arrest of three US soldiers involved in the attack.

The US has pressured the Spanish government and judiciary to block the investigation, according to secret US diplomatic documents obtained by the whistleblower WikiLeaks and quoted by the daily El Pais.

Spanish senior government officials, prosecutors and judges bent to the pressure, the documents indicate.

Names mentioned in the documents include those of then foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, then justice minister Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, attorney-general Candido Conde-Pumpido and National Court chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza.

They could be guilty of charges including conspiracy and an illegal agreement with the US government, the Couso family argued in its legal complaint.

The National Court has shelved the Couso case twice, but reopened it on orders from the Supreme Court.

In July, National Court judge Santiago Pedraz issued an arrest warrant for Lieutenant Colonel Philip de Camp, Captain Philip Wolford and Sergeant Thomas Gibson on charges of homicide and of a crime against the international community.

The US has refused previous requests to extradite the three, saying they fired at the hotel in self-defence, and that they had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Couso, who worked for the television station Telecinco, and a Ukrainian cameraman for the Reuters news agency were killed in the 2003 attack.

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