The New York Times

August 13, 2003

Dead Journalist's Family Denounces U.S. Iraq Report

Filed at 2:33 p.m. ET

MADRID (Reuters) - The family of a Spanish television cameraman killed by a U.S. tank shell in Baghdad four months ago dismissed as ``a series of lies'' Wednesday a U.S. report that cleared its soldiers of blame.

The U.S. military said Tuesday that an inquiry had found the tank crew acted in self defense when they fired on the Palestine Hotel, home to many foreign journalists covering the arrival of U.S. troops in the city center on April 8.

Jose Couso of Spain's Telecinco and Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk were killed and three other Reuters staff wounded.

Couso's brother, Javier Couso, told Reuters: ``The report is more of the same. A series of lies, hiding the truth to justify the actions of their soldiers. This report does not clarify anything. This is not an investigation for us.''

He said the family would petition the Spanish government and U.S. congressmen to request an independent inquiry.

``They want to turn the page but we will not allow that,'' he said, adding that the family would keep up monthly protests outside the U.S. embassy in Madrid.

Reuters said Tuesday that the international news agency was anxious to see the full report on the incident.

U.S. Central Command, in the published summary of its findings, said its troops believed an Iraqi observer was directing fire at them from a vantage point in the hotel.

A single tank shell hit the 15th-floor balcony from which Reuters' Protsyuk was filming, sending debris onto the floor below, which fatally injured Couso.

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