Wednesday, October 19, 2005
A Spanish High Court judge issued international arrest warrants on Wednesday for three U.S. soldiers over the death of a Spanish cameraman during the war in Iraq.
"I order the ... capture and arrest of the U.S. soldiers, with a view to extradition," High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz said in a court document, adding the order would be submitted to the international police organization Interpol.
The Spanish cameraman in question was Jose Couso, 37, who died on April 8, 2003 after being injured when an American tank fired a shell at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. The tank crew fired on the hotel because enemy Iraqi soldiers had positioned spotters in the hotel and the Americans had seen fire coming from a balcony.
The next day another Spanish reporter, Julio Anguita Parrado, 32, died from an Iraqi missile fired at an American position.
We are on tenterhooks waiting for Judge Pedraz to issue a warrant for the arrest of the Iraqis who "murdered" Mr. Parrado.
UPDATE: Mudville Gazette has a round-up of other links, including background.
Maybe the US should pass a law making it unlawful for foreign officials to arrest, attempt to arrest, or prosecute American citizens for any actions that did not occur in the country in which those officials reside. We could also go a step further and make aiding and abetting such attempts a crime as well. Two can play at this little game.
This will certainly require some kind of diplomatic intervention by the U.S.
These soldiers now cannot travel to Europe either for the Army (off-base leave being a problem) or on holiday. One wonders whether they may even be able to leave the United States except on Army business; might they be apprehended while on holiday in Cancun and then shipped to Madrid?
Will this situation pertain until the warrant is lifted, i.e. indefinitely?
If this pattern develops, what will it mean for U.S. Army recruiting?
What would happen if a Spanish judge indicted the entire U.S. 1st Armored Division in Germany for "war crimes" while it was deployed last year in Iraq? Would the soldiers then be confined to base out of fear of arrest and transfer to Madrid?
The U.S. administration is obviously trying to resolve this in a low-key manner. When Secretary Rumsfeld faced arrest in Belgium under their "universal jurisdiction" doctrine, he said he would not go to NATO headquarters in Belgium until the Belgium parliament cahnged its law, which they did. Spain may face the same choice, or isolation from the U.S.
It will be interesting to see how this case develops.