How US worked to get three soldiers off the hook for cameraman's death
"We want continued cooperation from
until this case is dropped" Spain
MÓNICA CEBERIO BELAZA -
One of the biggest objectives at the
Couso's family filed a court complaint one month after he was killed
After the warrants were issued, officials called Aguirre to reassure him
According to a batch of secret cablegrams obtained by EL PAÍS through Wikileaks, US diplomats held a host of meetings about the case with then-Deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, the then-ministers of justice and foreign affairs, Juan Fernando López Aguilar and Miguel Ángel Moratinos, as well as Attorney General Cándido Conde-Pumpido and High Court prosecutor Javier Zaragoza.
The High Court has charged three soldiers - Sgt. Thomas Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Col. Philip de Camp, all of the Third Infantry Division of the US Army - for the killing of Telecinco cameraman José Couso on April 8, 2003 during a tank shelling of the Hotel Palestine where he and other journalists were staying while they were covering the war in Baghdad. Also killed was a Reuters cameraman, Taras Protsyuk of
On May 25, 2007,
Couso's family filed a complaint with the High Court the month after he was killed. The
After the warrants were announced, López Aguilar and Moratinos contacted Aguirre to reassure him. Aguirre wrote a cable on October 21, 2005 in which he noted that the "ministers have moved quickly" to show the
Couso's family appealed the decision and on December 14, 2006 the Supreme Court ordered Pedraz to reopen the case.
Zaragoza, the High Court chief prosecutor, telephoned the Embassy on May 14, 2007 to tell diplomats that he had filed another appeal.
On July 18, 2007 Conde-Pumpido had lunch with Aguirre where a number of judicial issues were discussed, including the Couso case. The attorney general "said that he continues to do what he can to get the case dismissed, despite public pressure from the family, leftist groups and the press," wrote Aguirre. On May 13, 2008, the High Court again revoked Pedraz's arrest warrants, ruling that the
But after new evidence surfaced, Pedraz again reopened the case on May 21, 2009. There are only a few cables released by Wikileaks that touch on the Couso investigation from that date onwards. Again the High Court dismissed it for the third time on July 14, 2009 and the Supreme Court reopened it on July 6, 2010.
Pedraz has been given permission from the CGPJ, Spain's judiciary watchdog, to travel to
"It's revolting how they played with us"
The Couso family had always suspected it, but it wasn't until the cablegrams were published this week that their worst fears were confirmed.
"It is revolting the way they played with our feelings, with our pain," said Lola Jiménez, the widow of Telecinco cameraman José Couso, killed in 2003 while working in
Javier Couso, José's brother, admits that it was "very painful" to read the secret
The family's lawyers are currently studying whether to take legal action against Spanish justice officials for "conspiring" with the
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs