clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

4 U.S. soldiers charged in Iraqi general's death

FORT CARSON, Colo. — The Army charged four soldiers with murder Monday, accusing them of suffocating an Iraqi general during an interrogation last fall.

Chief Warrant Officers Jefferson L. Williams and Lewis E. Welshofer Jr., Sgt. 1st Class William J. Sommer and Spc. Jerry L. Loper could get life in prison without parole in the Nov. 26 death of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, 57, at Qaim, Iraq.

The Army said Mowhoush died of asphyxiation from chest compression and from being smothered. Welshofer was part of a two-person interrogation of the general, according to the Army.

The Army gave no details on what the men are alleged to have done. But The Denver Post, citing unidentified military documents, reported earlier this year that Welshofer and Williams slid a sleeping bag over Mowhoush's head and rolled him from his back to his stomach while asking questions.

Mowhoush, a member of the Republican Guard's air defense branch, was captured in a raid in Qaim. A U.S. military spokeswoman said at the time that Mowhoush was believed to have been financing attacks on American forces.

All four soldiers charged were assigned to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Carson, at the time of Mowhoush's death and have since returned to the United States. Williams has transferred to the 513th Military Intelligence Brigade at Fort Gordon, Ga.

None of the soldiers has been jailed, officials said. Their ages and hometowns were not immediately available.

Welshofer, whose mother said he is married with three children and grew up in Middletown, Ohio, did not immediately return a call for comment. The three others did not have listed numbers.

A decision on whether to court-martial the men will be made after an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a preliminary hearing in civilian court.

The charges bring to at least 10 the number of U.S. troops charged with murder in the deaths of Iraqis.

Four soldiers from Fort Riley, Kan., were charged last month with murder in the deaths of four Iraqi civilians in two incidents. A soldier from 1st Armored Division in Germany has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a badly wounded driver for militant cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Another soldier was sentenced to 25 years in prison last month after pleading guilty to murder in the death of an Iraqi National Guard member. His unit was not identified.

Two other Fort Carson soldiers face courts-martial on manslaughter charges in connection with an unrelated death in Iraq — that of the drowning of an Iraqi civilian in the Tigris River.