We Don’t Hand Over American Soldiers To Spanish Judges

by John Hawkins | October 19, 2005 11:55 pm

This Spanish Judge[1] sounds more like he’s trying to win plaudits on the cocktail circuit than get to the bottom of a “crime”:

“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 a Ukrainian cameraman, 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, which is based in Fort Stewart, Ga.

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 many journalists were staying to cover the war.

Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk, a Ukrainian, also was killed.

Pedraz had sent two requests to the United States — in April 2004 and June 2005 — to have statements taken from the suspects or to obtain permission for a Spanish delegation to quiz them. Both went unanswered.

He said he issued the arrest order because of a lack of judicial cooperation from the United States regarding the case.

The warrant “is the only effective measure to ensure the presence of the suspects in the case being handled by Spanish justice, given the lack of judicial cooperation by U.S. authorities,” the judge said in the warrant.

The Pentagon had no immediate information and said it was looking into it.

U.S. officials have insisted that the soldiers believed they were being shot at when they opened fire.

Following the Palestine incident, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said a review of the incident found that the use of force was justified.

…De Camp, who is now an adjunct mathematics professor at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., said three investigations into the incident — two military investigations and one by the Committee to Protect Journalists — had exonerated all three men.”

What this judge in Spain wants or thinks about what happened is irrelevant. It’s a settled matter as far as we’re concerned and we don’t recognize his right to even question those men. He has no more right to demand that our soldiers answer his questions than the manager of a Burger King in Germany does.

Furthermore, may I add that this is exactly the sort of thing we’d see all the time, despite assurances we’ve been given to the contrary, if we signed up for the International Criminal Court. An American soldier accidentally killed a journalist from Belgium in a war zone? Well, he’ll have to be tried in Europe. Oh, this time an Air Force bomber killed some Iraqi insurgents, but their friends claim they were innocent, so let’s put him in front of some ultra-left wing judge from France.

No thank-you to that. We investigate our own troops, in our own country, and if we decide that they’ve done something wrong, we’ll punish them for it. That’s how it is and how it should continue to be.

  1. Spanish Judge: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051019/ap_on_re_eu/spain_us_journalist_death;_ylt=An4UdP9BCsK2mr4Y7RDz3YSs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b3JuZGZhBHNlYwM3MjE-

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