A Small Victory For Justice

Spain’s National Court has taken a significant step in recapturing the Spanish judicial system from the grasp of a modern day Javert by quashing the indictments against three American soldiers accused of murder in the deaths of a Spanish journalist and Ukrainian national employed as a cameraman by Reuters. The Spanish prosecutor in question, Santiago Pedraz, has exhibited something of a monomania in his attempts to criminalize legitimate, if unfortunate, acts of war. He has had an arrest warrant issued in 2005 and a 2007 indictment quashed but he had recently reinstated the indictments yet again.

MADRID – For the second time, Spain’s National Court on Tuesday quashed indictments against three U.S. soldiers for the 2003 death in Baghdad of Spanish television cameraman Jose Couso.

Members of the court’s criminal chamber also ordered colleague Santiago Pedraz to close the case file.

As we wrote back in 2005, there are two key takeaway points from this story. The first is that leaning out of a hotel window pointing a videocamera at a tank engaged in combat is not a particularly strong evolutionary strategy. The second is that the Bush Administration was unequivocably correct in refusing to participate in any transnational kangaroo court.

Hopefully, this action will bring the entire issue to a close. The three soldiers involved will be able to get on with their lives without fear of being served with an arrest warrant for doing their duty and Sr. Pedraz will be able to spend more time with his coiffeur.