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Cablegate: Spain/Couso Case: Judge Rejects Chief Prosecutor's

VZCZCXRO5789
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHMD #1000 1441630
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241630Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2607
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0170
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA PRIORITY 2740
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS MADRID 001000

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

EUR/WE FOR ALLEGRONE, CLEMENTS AND CERVETTI
L/LEI FOR PROPP, KULISH, AND JOHNSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN/COUSO CASE: JUDGE REJECTS CHIEF PROSECUTOR'S
APPEAL; CASE MOVES ON TO APPEALS TRIBUNAL

REF: A. MADRID 910
B. MADRID 899
C. MADRID 800 AND OTHERS

1. (SBU) On May 24 Spanish investigative magistrate Judge
Santiago Pedraz rejected the appeal of National Court Chief
Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza to drop the charges against three
U.S. servicemen accused of killing Spanish television
cameraman Jose Couso during a firefight in Baghdad in April
2003. Despite the rejection by Judge Pedraz, this case will
proceed to the National Court appeals tribunal, which will
rule on the merits of the arguments put forth by Pedraz and
by the National Court prosecutors. As we reported in REFTEL
A, Zaragoza contacted us on May 14 to report that he had
appealed the Pedraz decision to file formal charges against
the three servicemen, saying that his technical and legal
review of the facts led him to conclude that the killing of
Couso was not intentional, and therefore the soldiers could
not be charged with war crimes or murder. In today's ruling
Judge Pedraz claimed to be surprised by Zaragoza's appeal, as
the National Prosecutors Office did not oppose his initial
ruling to reactivate arrest warrants for the servicemen and
therefore tacitly agreed with the case.

2. (SBU) Comment. Today's ruling by Pedraz was not a
surprise as judges do not normally change their original
ruling after an appeal based on the technical or legal review
of the National Court Prosecutors Office. This case, as we
expected, will now be forwarded to the Criminal Division of
the National Court. Post will continue to report on this
case as it develops.
LLORENS

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