Thursday, October 20, 2005

Spanish judge issues arrest warrant for US troops

In April 2003, in an attack widely believed to be deliberate, a US tank fired at media in the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, killing Spanish journalist Jose Couso and Ukranian cameraman Taras Protsyuk. Today, in a landmark decision, a Spanish judge has issued an arrest warrant for three of the tank's crew on murder and war crimes charges. The charges are possible because Spain claims jurisdiction over the murder of its citizens abroad - something which has enabled them to pursue South American dictators like Augusto Pinochet as well as former members of Argentina's military regime.

They'll never face trial, of course - the US has flatly refused to extradite. Instead, they'll just join the list of Americans who cannot travel outside of their country for fear of arrest. But it is good to see that at least someone is making an effort to hold them to account.


The US govt is just fulfilling its side of the military bargain by refusing to allow extradition. If a govt wants to recruit people who will obey when it requires them to go and kill people in a foreign country, it had better protect them from prosecution for doing so, otherwise recruitment becomes a problem. This is why only the losers of a conflict ever face war crimes trials.

In this particular case, it's unlikely the tank crew deliberately decided to kill some journos. American soldiers in Iraq placed a lot of emphasis on killing forward observers for Iraqi mortars and artillery, for obvious reasons. This meant that anyone pointing any kind of optical equipment at US forces was likely to attract fire. It's likely that quite a few civilians who turned out to watch the conflict through binoculars got a sniper's bullet through the head for their trouble, and most likely the journos at the hotel suffered the same effect. If there's anyone to answer the charges, it's not the soldiers who reacted appropriately in a combat situation that they were trained for, it's the guys who put them in that situation. Can't see the Spanish indicting Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld though.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 10/22/2005 08:10:00 PM