Soldiers face homicide charge in POW's death

/ Source: The Associated Press

The military plans to charge two intelligence soldiers in the suffocation death of an Iraqi general during an interrogation last fall, according to a newspaper report.

Charges of negligent homicide and involuntary manslaughter will be filed against Chief Warrant Officers Lewis Welshofer and Jeff Williams, the Denver Post reported in Thursday editions, citing a Pentagon document obtained by the newspaper.

Welshofer was not at home Thursday and his wife declined comment except to say he does have a military lawyer. Fort Carson spokesman Lt. Justin Journeay confirmed an investigation was under way but provided no details.

Williams did not immediately return calls seeking comment Thursday. The Judge Advocate General’s Office also did not return calls.

Soldier accused of sitting on suspect
Welshofer, a member of the 66th Military Intelligence Group, has said he did nothing wrong. He is accused of sitting on the chest of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush and covering his mouth while the air force commander was wrapped in a sleeping bag, the Post reported.

Mowhoush, 57, died during interrogation Nov. 26 at Qaim, Iraq. His death certificate lists homicide as the cause. The military has said Mowhoush died from asphyxiation due to smothering and chest compression.

The CIA said one of its agents may also have been involved and referred the case to the Justice Department for investigation. Two other soldiers face dereliction-of-duty charges in the interrogation, the newspaper reported; they were not named in the Pentagon document.

Welshofer and Williams were reprimanded by their commander earlier this year and were forbidden from conducting further interrogations, the Post reported.

Scott Silliman, a Duke University law professor and former officer of the Judge Advocate General’s Office, said he has never heard of a military officer being charged with homicide in the death of an inmate.

‘That's something unique’
“That’s something unique to have a prison guard or interrogator, because of their physical action, to have caused the death of someone,” he said.

The mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops has become a worldwide scandal, with the military and other agencies investigating a number of deaths as well as procedures at the Abu Ghraib prison. Seven members of the 372nd Military Police Company have been charged with mistreating prisoners.

Other Fort Carson soldiers face possible discipline for forcing two Iraqi detainees to jump off a bridge into the Tigris River earlier this year.

Members of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment are also being questioned about the death of Iraqi prisoner Abdul Jaleel, 46, who died Jan. 9. The Army has said Jaleel died at a post near Al Asad of blunt force injuries and asphyxia.