Death of Journalist Killed by G.I.'s Prompts Calls for InquiryBy SARAH LYALL
LONDON, Aug. 18 International journalists' groups and Reuters demanded today that the American military hold a full public inquiry into the death of a Reuters cameraman fatally shot by American soldiers in Iraq on Sunday as he filmed outside a prison.
The cameraman, Mazen Dana, 43, was the second Reuters journalist to be killed in Iraq since the invasion began on March 20. His colleague Taras Protsyuk, a Ukrainian usually based in Warsaw, died on April 8 when an American tank fired a shell at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, from which Mr. Protsyuk was filming the United States advance into the city center.
"Coming so soon after the death of Taras Protsyuk, also killed by a U.S. tank, this latest death is hard to bear," the chief executive of Reuters, Tom Glocer, said in a statement. "That's why I am personally calling upon the highest levels of the U.S. government for a full and comprehensive investigation into this terrible tragedy."
Some 17 journalists have died in the course of covering the fighting in Iraq, according to Reporters Without Borders, an advocacy group based in Paris. In a statement, the group's secretary general, Robert Menard, criticized the American military for what he said were numerous "blunders" in the war in Iraq, adding that "until now, these have not been subjected to inquiries worthy of the name."
In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the group called for an investigation into Mr. Dana's death that would be "honest, rapid and designed to shed full light on this tragedy, not whitewash the U.S. Army."
In New York, the Committee to Protect Journalists praised Mr. Dana as "a determined witness who took constant risks in order to tell the world the news from the West Bank and, more recently, from Iraq."
The group, which gave Mr. Dana its International Press Freedom Award in 2001 for his work in Hebron, where he grew up and spent much of his career, also called for "a full investigation into the shooting and a public accounting of the circumstances."
The United States military promised an investigation, calling Mr. Dana's death "a terrible tragedy" and "a tragic incident," that took place when "coalition soldiers engaged with an individual" who later turned out to be a journalist.
"It is under investigation," Col. Guy Shields of the Army told reporters, "and we will do everything in our power to make sure things like this do not happen again."
Witnesses in Iraq told The Associated Press that Mr. Dana was among a group of journalists reporting at the Abu Ghraib prison in western Baghdad, which is being used by the United States and was recently attacked by mortar shells, leaving 6 prisoners dead and about 60 wounded. Mr. Dana was filming outside the prison, colleagues said, when he came under fire from American forces.
The videotape in his camera, retrieved after his death, showed two American tanks heading toward him, The A.P. reported. Six shots could be heard; the camera seemed to tilt and drop to the ground after the first shot.
"We were all there, for at least half an hour," Stephan Breitner of France 2 television told The A.P. "They knew we were journalists. After they shot Mazen, they aimed their guns at us. I don't think it was an accident. They are very tense. They are crazy."
Other witnesses told the news agency that while it should have been clear that Mr. Dana was a journalist, the soldiers in the tanks apparently thought he was preparing to attack them. Mr. Dana's driver, Munzer Abbas, told The A.P. that "one of the soldiers told us they thought Mazen was carrying a rocket-propelled grenade" an armor-piercing weapon that has taken a number of American lives in Iraq.
Mr. Dana's death comes just five days after the Pentagon issued its official report into the shelling of the Palestine Hotel, which served as the unofficial headquarters for the world's press during the invasion of Iraq last spring. The attack killed two journalists and wounded three others.
The report said that United States forces, under heavy fire from an Iraqi battalion, had been told that an enemy observer was stationed on the hotel balcony and helping to guide mortar, missile and grenade fire against American troops.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said that the report, summarized in a government news release but not published in full, was flawed.
"It is troubling that the results of the investigation as summarized in this news release do not address the central question of whether U.S. commanders were aware they were firing on a hotel full of journalists," the group's deputy director, Joel Simon, said in a statement. "We hope that the full report deals with these issues and provides more specific information. We call on the Pentagon to make the full report public."
During his career, Mr. Dana, who was married and had four children, had been threatened, beaten and shot at on several occasions. "Mazen was one of Reuters's finest cameramen, and we are devastated by his loss," the global head of news at Reuters, Stephen Jukes, said in a statement. "He was committed to covering the story wherever it was."
In accepting the 2001 International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Mr. Dana spoke about the dangers he often faced. "Words and images are a public trust," he said. "For this reason I will continue with my work regardless of the hardships, even if it costs me my life."
Original URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/18/international/worldspecial/18CND-REUT.html?ex=1062302400&en=167111afa86d901e&ei=5070
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