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Court ends case of Spanish cameraman killed in Iraq

Written by: Staff

MADRID, Mar 11 (Reuters) The Spanish High Court has decided to close a case in which the family of a cameraman killed in Iraq sought the arrest and questioning of three US soldiers, ruling that his death was a mistaken act of war.

''This was not an intentional act of wrongdoing to cause the death of two protected civilians (Couso and Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk), but rather an act of war against the apparent enemy, erroneously identified,'' said a court document dated March 8 but made public yesterday.

Spanish state prosecutors had appealed the case, brought by the family of Telecinco cameraman Jose Couso, on the ground that Spain lacked jurisdiction to seek the soldiers' extradition.

The United States acknowledged that the soldiers' tank fired a shell into the Palestine Hotel, where Couso and Protsyuk were killed and three other Reuters staff seriously injured, but cleared the men, Sergeant Thomas Gibson, Captain Philip Wolford and Lieutenant-Colonel Philip De Camp, of any blame.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists criticised the Pentagon report on the incident, saying it failed to address the question of ''why US troops were not aware that the Palestine Hotel -- one of the best-known civilian sites in Baghdad at the time -- was full of journalists.'' Reuters KD AD VP0525

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