Charges considered in death of Iraqi general

USA TODAY
June 25, 2004, Friday, FINAL EDITION
BYLINE: Tom Squitieri
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 6A
LENGTH: 498 words
DATELINE: WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON — The Army is building a case against two of its officers and two enlisted personnel in the fatal interrogation of an Iraqi general who was suffocated last November while in custody in Iraq, an Army official said Thursday.

The official, who has direct knowledge of investigations into prisoner abuses and deaths, said investigators have completed their preliminary work in the case but have not yet sent their report to the base commander. The commander decides whether to proceed with the case.

Military officials normally don’t comment on the record in ongoing investigations.

Killed was Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abid Hamed Mowhosh, a commander of Saddam Hussein’s air forces. He was captured Nov. 10 and underwent daily interrogations at the Qaim facility with special operations forces and CIA personnel.

He allegedly was beaten while in a sleeping bag as U.S. personnel sat on his chest and covered his mouth on Nov. 26. His death, announced on Nov. 27, was at first attributed to natural causes. Later it was ruled a homicide.

On June 17, a CIA civilian contractor was charged in the beating death of a prisoner held in Afghanistan. Two other Iraqi death cases have been sent by the CIA to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. In another case, an Army soldier was court-martialed, reduced in rank and discharged. Eight Marines were charged in the death of another Iraqi prisoner.

The Army official said that among those under investigation in the Mowhosh case are Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, a member of the 66th Military Intelligence Group; and Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Williams.

Two enlisted soldiers who were in the facility at the time of the death also are being investigated, the official said. They were not identified. The four soldiers are at Fort Carson, Colo.

Once charges are filed, the case could go to an Article 32 hearing — the equivalent of a grand jury — to determine whether enough evidence exists to go to trial.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported on its Web site Thursday that the company commander of U.S. soldiers charged with abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad testified that the top military intelligence commander at the prison was present the night a prisoner died during an interrogation. Efforts were made to conceal the details of his death, the Post reported.

Capt. Donald Reese, commander of the 372nd Military Police Company, said he was summoned one night in November to a shower room in a cellblock at the prison, where he discovered the body of a bloodied prisoner on the floor. A group of intelligence personnel was standing around the body discussing what to do, he said.

Col. Thomas Pappas, commander of military intelligence at the prison, was among those present, Reese said.

Reese was testifying during an investigative hearing for Spc. Sabrina Harman, 26, one of seven Army reservists charged with abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib.