U.S. troops 'suffocated' Iraqi general

AL JAZEERA

Friday 25 June 2004, 1:54 Makka Time, 22:54 GMT

The U.S. Army plans to file charges against two military intelligence officers in the suffocation death of an Iraqi general during questioning in Iraq in Novembe.

According to a Denver Post report on Thursday, negligent homicide and manslaughter charges were being brought against two warrant officers over the death of Iraqi Major General Abid Hamid Mauhush, a former commander in the Iraqi air force.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, based at Fort Carson, Colorado and a member of the 66th Military Intelligence Group, is accused of suffocating the general in a sleeping bag while sitting on his chest and covering his mouth, according to Pentagon documents obtained by the newspaper.

The other soldier, Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Williams, was involved in the interrogation at a US military facility at Qaim, Iraq, the newspaper said.
 
The general's death was among more than 30 prisoner deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Pentagon said last month it was investigating.

The treatment of prisoners came under scrutiny after photographs of physical and sexual abuse of Iraqi inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad emerged earlier this year.

The general had undergone more than two weeks of daily interrogations while in US custody, the newspaper said.

The US military said at the time that he apparently died of natural causes after complaining that "he didn't feel well and subsequently lost consciousness."

But an autopsy released by the Pentagon in May said Mauhush died of asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression.

A spokesman at Fort Carson said he had no comment.