Crime of War: José Couso

On 8 April 2003, twelve years ago, American murderers killed two journalists, the Spaniard José Couso (cameraman of Tele5, a TV channel) and the Ukrainian Taras Protsyuk (Reuters); also were injured the Lebanese Samia Najul and the British Paul Pasquale. The murder happened in Baghdad, when US army was invading the country (looking for weapons of mass destruction, do you remember?). The killers shot from a M1A1 tank which deliberately attacked the journalists, who were in the 15th floor of Palestine Hotel. Pentagon knew that international media were based in that hotel. (The death of José Couso in Baghdad)

Jose Couso
José Couso killed

That was the third time on the same day, in an interval of three hours, that American army attacked media in Baghdad. Before the attack against the Palestine Hotel, they had attacked the offices of Abu-Dhabi TV and the bureau of Al Jazeera, killing the Jordanian reporter Tarek Ayyoub. The Pentagon had been given the coordinates of both buildings to avoid “accidental” attacks. Perhaps international journalists should hide their locations to Pentagon, because it seems that only makes easier the murders.

Why the Pentagon kill reporters? In words of the reporter Mónica Prieto (El Mundo, Spanish newspaper):

“The death of José Couso was a premeditated crime, an attack on journalists to prevent us from telling the story of something the US has tried to hide from the start of the war: the slaughter of civilians.”

Indeed, that is something that everyone know all around the world: US army deliberately kill journalists each time they attack a country.

Likely the name José Couso isn’t known in US. There were thousands of “collateral damages” in Iraq on those days, and the country continues destroyed today (although not even can be said that these journalists were “collateral damage”, because they were deliberately murdered). However, the matter is not closed in Spain.

Family, friends and colleagues of José Couso started a campaign to demand justice ( Of course American government refused any reliable investigation, claiming simply that, well, that happens in war, you know… As witty as usual, George W. Bush stated: “I think war is a dangerous place”. And Spanish government, always a good vassal, at once claimed that they were very satisfied with the American “explanations”.

However, the campaign went ahead. Many demonstrations have been made since that 8 April 2003. A judicial process began, against the pressure of American and Spanish government, as Wikileaks revealed in 2010 (Leaked cables reveal U.S. pressured Spain to drop case of cameraman killed in 2003 attack on journalists in Baghdad). Many people here had new hope when Barack Obama won elections, thinking that US government would cooperate with justice then; it was when Obama got to trick everyone, before to know the real Obama. But US and Spain governments continued doing their dirty work, and finally the process was stopped.

But a judge got to open it again, and the judicial process is ongoing. We know the names of the murderers: lieutenant colonel Philip de Camp, captain Philip Wolford and sergeant Shawn Gibson. The judge issued international arrest warrant against the three killers on 2014, given that US administration not even answer to the requirements.

According to international laws and bilateral treaties, US is obliged to cooperate in this case, but they remain totally silent, ignoring all the judicial requirements. Everyone know what American presidents think about international laws and treaties: every country must obey them, except United States of America and Israel.

It can seem a very unbalanced fight, but that is not reason to give up.


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