DENVER – 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 (search) and Jeff Williams (search), The Denver Post reported in Thursday editions, citing a Pentagon (search) document obtained by the newspaper.
Welshofer 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, according to the document.
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 (search) said one of its agents may also have been involved and referred the case to the Justice Department (search) for investigation. Two other soldiers face dereliction-of-duty charges in the interrogation, the newspaper reported; they were not named in the Pentagon document.
No one at the Army post near Colorado Springs or the Pentagon was available after hours for comment.
Welshofer, a member of the 66th Military Intelligence Group, declined comment to the Post on Wednesday, as did Maj. Gen. Robert Wilson, the commanding general of Fort Carson where the accused soldiers are based. Williams did not return requests for comment.
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 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.