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2005-03-23

Brother of Slain Journalist Jose Couso Calls for Prosecution of Those Responsible for U.S. Attack on Palestine Hotel

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We speak with Jose Couso’s brother, Javier, who is in the United States to call for an independent investigation into the death of his brother and the prosecution of those responsible. [includes rush transcript]

Since the beginning of the invasion, over three dozen journalists have been killed in Iraq. It remains one of the deadliest conflicts for journalists in recent history.

  • Javier Couso, brother of Jose Couso. For more information go to JoseCouso.info.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Jose Couso’s brother, Javier, in the United States to call for an independent investigation into the death of his brother and the prosecution of those responsible. I asked him to talk about the comments of the tank commander, Sergeant Shawn Gibson on the documentary. Gibson is the U.S. soldier who pulled the trigger that killed Jose Couso. He’s translated by James Hollander.

JAVIER COUSO: [translated] I think he’s lying, because of all of the proof, because of the evidence that we have, that we know of: Recordings, the testimony of hundreds of witnesses, of military experts who make it very clear that if you are exposed to an enemy attack, you would never have a tank on the bridge, you know, just sort of sitting there. Ten minutes that the main gun of the tank was aiming at the Hotel Palestine. There was a heat round from the tank. It was a high explosive, high power explosive used called "heat." We have actually been able to gain a copy of the manual of urban combat of the U.S. Army. They had to get information — they had to ask for information from the G2, which is the operations section, and G3, which is information sections. And they knew. They knew that the Hotel Palestine was a civilian building. They received authorization from the head of the Third Infantry Division, General Buford Blount, who also knew that the Hotel Palestine was a civilian target and the Hotel Palestine had all of these journalists.

AMY GOODMAN: So you’re calling for the prosecution of those in the military? Who? Of who?

JAVIER COUSO: [translated] The General of the Third Infantry Division, Buford Blount, Captain Philip Wolford, Lieutenant Colonel Philip DeCamp, and Sergeant Shawn Gibson. According to the Code of Military Justice, orders to attack civilians or journalists — journalists are civilians — can be disobeyed. The head of the division, the Third Infantry Division, is either a madman or he’s simply a criminal, war criminal.

AMY GOODMAN: And what has the Spanish government responded to this demand? What has the U.S. government responded? <

JAVIER COUSO: [translated] The attitude, as Olga said before, because of the mobilization that we have had, the movement that we have had, the attitude has changed. What we asked the Spanish government to do was exactly what the Ukrainian government had done in the case of Taras Protsyuk, who was a Reuters journalist who was killed. We had to wait 22 months so that they would recognize the dignity of my brother as a worker, as a media worker. At a diplomatic level, there was request for explanations between, well, minister to minister, say, from the foreign minister — the Spanish foreign minister — to Secretary of State Colin Powell, at the time. Right, but Powell, all he did was simply pass along the buck to the report that was — that had been made by the internal army report. In the last two weeks we have raised the bar of our demands. We have gone to the European Parliament. We met with all of the political groups present in the Parliament from right to left, every single one. We were received by both the President and the Vice President of the European Parliament. And they issued an institutional statement supporting our struggle for justice. On the 13th of April, they’re going to debate this in the European Parliament. Really, the focus on the difference between the case of Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian journalist who was attacked a few weeks ago and the case of the attack on the Hotel Palestine and Jose Couso, why is there going to be a serious investigation apparently into the attack on the Italian journalist but not into the Hotel Palestine? We’re working with the Human Rights Commission of the European Parliament on a resolution that would demand explanations from the government of the United States, which would deal with all kinds of attacks on journalists, not only the attacks like the Hotel Palestine or the one on Giuliana Sgrena, but also journalists who have been kidnapped, because my impression both having been in Iraq and also outside Iraq is that independent journalism is under threat, is that there have been more than 40 journalists who have been killed in Iraq without any investigation. They’re being kidnapped by dark forces whose whereabouts in that character were don’t know. If we don’t stop this among — between all of us, with all of us, that is, families, journalists, media organizations, then the only information we’ll receive about war will be from embedded journalists or from the military itself.

AMY GOODMAN: Javier Couso, the brother of Jose Couso, who died on April 8, 2003, when the U.S. military attacked the Palestine Hotel. Since the beginning of the invasion, over three dozen journalists have been killed in Iraq; remains one of the deadliest conflicts for journalists in recent history. Tonight, Javier Couso will be screening the full documentary, Hotel Palestine: Killing the Witness, here in New York at the Unitarian Church of All Souls on Lexington and 79th. He will also be joining us for our Un-Embed the Media tour that we kick off next week.

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