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Viewing cable 07MADRID101, SPAIN/COUSO CASE: MEETING WITH CHIEF PROSECUTOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MADRID101 2007-01-18 17:05 2010-12-07 21:09 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Madrid
VZCZCXRO1824
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHMD #0101 0181739
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181739Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1666
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0132
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA PRIORITY 2374
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCAACC/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS MADRID 000101

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

L/LEI FOR KEN PROPP AND MARK KULISH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN/COUSO CASE: MEETING WITH CHIEF PROSECUTOR

REF: A. MADRID 82
B. MADRID 26
C. 2005 MADRID 4308

1. (SBU) Embassy officials from Legat, the Consular Section,
and the Political Section met with National Court Chief
Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza on 1/18 to review developments in
the Spanish court case charging three U.S. servicemen with
murder and war crimes in the April 2003 death of Spanish
cameraman Jose Couso during the takeover of Baghdad (REFS A
and B). Poloff noted that they were not acting under
instruction and simply wanted to meet informally with
Zaragoza to review a case of great sensitivity to the USG.
Emboffs noted the rapid decision of Examining Magistrate
Santiago Pedraz to re-issue international detention orders
against the three accused servicemen (REF B) and asked
whether Spanish authorities intended to submit bilateral
extradition requests to the U.S. as well for the three
servicemen.

2. (SBU) Zaragoza said that he was not yet in a position to
determine whether or not bilateral extradition requests would
be filed because he had not reviewed the case himself
sufficiently to establish the best course of action (Zaragoza
was not working at the National Court at the time the Couso
case was reviewed and dismissed). He noted that the Couso
case had moved swiftly at a time when he was preoccupied with
the recent handover of ETA terrorist suspects to Spain by
French authorities, which involved new legal ground for the
Spanish authorities. However, Zaragoza said that he was
aware of Spanish Attorney General Candido Conde Pumpido's
interest and involvement in the case (REF C) and assured
Emboffs that his office would carefully study all aspects of
the case and would proceed at a deliberate pace. He said
that the existence of a U.S. investigation of the incident
was understood to be an important consideration, but left
open the possibility that the Prosecutor's Office would seek
additional information from USG authorities.

3. (SBU) The Consular Section's legal adviser asked Zaragoza
whether he could confirm news reports that the Examining
Magistrate had requested that his office prepare a report on
whether U.S. assets could be embargoed (frozen) as part of a
civil component of the Couso family's suit against the U.S.
servicemen. Zaragoza scanned the Examining Magistrate's
request and said that the magistrate's order merely
transmitted this request by the plaintiffs; the National
Prosecutor's office had to undertake a careful review of
Spanish case law before responding to the request.

//COMMENT//

4. (SBU) Our objective in this initial meeting with Zaragoza
was to sensitize him to the USG's concerns in this case,
since he had no involvement in this case when it first came
before the National Court. Zaragoza is a seasoned prosecutor
with a clear understanding of the political implications of
this case and we anticipate that he will proceed as carefully
as he said he would. As soon as Zaragoza informs us how he
intends to proceed, we will convey this information to
interested Washington agencies. We will also follow up at
higher levels in the Spanish Government to reinforce the
implications of this case for bilateral relations and on
international law.

Aguirre