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A Spanish court on Tuesday threw out charges against three U.S. soldiers in the death of a Spanish journalist in Iraq six years ago and recommended the case be closed.

The National Court said investigative magistrate Santiago Pedraz had produced no new evidence to indicate that the soldiers had acted incorrectly, given that they were in a war situation.

The soldiers, members of a tank crew, said they were responding to hostile fire when they shot at a Baghdad hotel housing Western journalists during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Spanish cameraman Jose Couso was one of two journalists killed in the shooting. The other was Reuters cameraman Taras Portsyk.

Pedraz first charged the soldiers in 2007. The National Court threw out that indictment this year, saying the evidence was insufficient and concluded the Couso's death was an accident of war.

But Pedraz reinstated it in May citing new evidence from three Spanish journalists who were at the hotel at the time of the shelling and looking out of a hotel window along with Couso.

These reporters testified that the tank had not come under fire before shooting at the Palestine Hotel.

But in the latest ruling, the National Court said their testimonies provided no new evidence which could lead the court to question the soldiers' claims that they believed, rightly or wrongly, they had come under fire, possibly from a sniper.


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