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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 22:26 GMT 23:26 UK
US soldiers in Iraq murder probe

By Nick Childs
BBC Pentagon correspondent

Four American soldiers have been charged with the murder of an Iraqi general who died in custody last November, the US army says.

The victim, Maj Gen Abid Hamid Mowhoush was being held at al-Qaim in Iraq, near the Syrian border.

A death certificate published by the Pentagon gave the cause as asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression.

It is one of many deaths of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan that the US military has been investigating.

'Interrogation death'

Chief Warrant Officers Jefferson Williams and Lewis Welshofer, Sgt 1st Class William Sommer and Spc Jerry Loper have been charged with murder and dereliction of duty, according to the US army.

The murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

The death of the Iraqi general has been treated as suspicious for some time.

The allegation has been that it was the result of injuries received during interrogation, specifically that he had a sleeping bag put over his head while he was repeatedly rolled over during questioning.

These are also the latest of a number of admittedly unrelated murder charges against US soldiers serving in Iraq which have been announced recently.

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