GI: "I am not a murderer"

Fort Carson, Colorado May 1, 2005
The Denver Post
By Arthur Kane and Miles Moffeit, Denver Post Staff Writers

Soldier accused of smothering Iraqi says he was following orders. “I am not a murderer. I did not torture anyone,” Colorado Springs attorney Frank Spinner read from a statement by Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer. “I used what I believed were approved techniques.” Welshofer, Chief Warrant Officer Jefferson L. Williams, Sgt. 1st Class William J. Sommers and Spec. Jerry L. Loper are charged with murder and dereliction of duty in the Nov. 26, 2003, death of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush in Qaim. The soldiers are accused of placing Mowhoush in a sleeping bag during an interrogation, tying him with electrical cord and Welshofer sitting on Mowhoush’s chest and putting his hands over Mowhoush’s mouth until the general suffocated.

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William Cassara, attorney for Williams, also said Thursday that his client was exonerated in an earlier investigation and received a Bronze Star for his work in Iraq. “The techniques were known and approved by the upper echelons of the chain of command,” Cassara said at a news conference after the hearing for his client ended. In fact, Cassara said later that the sleeping-bag technique was used for months after Mowhoush’s death, proving that top officials were aware that it was practiced. Cassara said the public has lost track of what the soldiers were facing in Iraq. “Mowhoush was a violent and belligerent terrorist whose job and goal was to kill American soldiers,” he added. Cassara also disputed a charge by Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Pratt of the National Guard, who testified Wednesday that he saw Williams throw a 20-pound box of packaged Army meals, hitting Mowhoush in the back. Williams, who was an intelligence analyst during the interrogation, was not involved in administering the interrogation techniques, Cassara added.

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