Alouni rebuts US version of hotel attack

An Aljazeera reporter has told a Spanish judge that there was no Iraqi resistance in or around Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel when two cameramen were killed in a US attack.

The Palestine Hotel attack outraged journalists worldwide
The Palestine Hotel attack outraged journalists worldwide

Taysir Alouni, accused by judge Baltasar Garzon of belonging to al-Qaida, was giving evidence in a preliminary inquest into the death of Spanish cameraman Jose Couso.

The cameraman was killed along with a Ukrainian colleague from Reuters television when US tanks fired on the hotel on 8 April.

“I am one of the only journalists to have gone right round the hotel and there was no resistance,” Alouni told judge Guillermo Ruiz Polanco on Tuesday.

‘American message’ 

Washington’s version of events is that a tank fired on the building after locating a sniper they believed was coordinating Iraqi fire from the hotel.

Alouni took refuge in the hotel after US forces bombarded his television station’s office, killing one reporter in the process.

Taysir Alouni was Aljazeera’s
correspondent in Iraq

“I was afraid they would continue firing on the hotel. It was one of the worst days of my life,” he said.

“It was a message from the Americans to the international press.”

Couso’s family are seeking damages from the 64th armoured regiment of the US third infantry division.

Al-Qaida accusation

The Popular Party of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, which strongly backed the US-led invasion of Iraq, last month rejected an opposition motion condemning the killings as well as calls for an inquiry into Couso’s death.

Alouni, a Spaniard of Syrian origin arrested on 5 September in Grenada, is famed for an interview with Usama bin Ladin after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Suffering from a heart defect, he was released on bail on 23 October.

Alouni was one of 35 people – including bin Ladin – charged in September with links to, or membership of, the Islamic network.

Source : AFP

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