Parliamentary question - E-0733/2007Parliamentary question

The José Couso case: non-respect of legal procedures by the US in a clear violation of human rights

by Emilio Menéndez del Valle (PSE)
to the Council

In April 2003, three US soldiers on board a tank launched a shell against a Baghdad hotel, which killed José Couso, a cameraman working for the Spanish TV channel Tele5, in the absence of the slightest provocation.

The efforts of the Spanish legal authorities to bring the soldiers concerned to account for their actions have so far been fruitless.

The US embassy in Madrid was recently questioned on the matter, and stated that an investigation had been carried out in 2003 and its findings had been passed to the Spanish authorities: the soldiers were found to have acted in accordance with the rules of combat.

This attitude has, evidently, given rise to concern in Spanish legal circles. One judge asked in public what a US judge would say if Spain were asked about such a matter and replied that the national government had already carried out an investigation.

Santiago Pedraz, the judge responsible for the case at Spain's Audiencia Nacional court, asked Interpol to issue an international search and capture warrant for the three soldiers. Interpol's reply was that it cannot do so without full details of their rank. Mr Pedraz, on 26 January 2007, asked the US embassy for those details, only to receive the reply indicated above.

The Spanish judge wishes to charge the three soldiers with a double offence of crimes against the international community and murder. The victim was a civilian and, therefore, protected by the Geneva Convention of 1949.

The Council is pursuing cordial and fruitful relations with the US, including harmonious and effective cooperation on both sides in the legal sphere. In view of the circumstances surrounding the Couso case, does the Council not believe that, in the framework of the regular transatlantic dialogue, a more cooperative attitude could be requested when Washington has to deal with problems of this kind in the context of its bilateral relations with an EU Member State?

OJ C 293, 05/12/2007