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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 January 2006, 11:26 GMT
Iraq general's killer reprimanded
A US officer who faced up to three years in jail for killing a captured Iraqi general has been punished with a reprimand and a $6,000 fine.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr was convicted last week of the negligent homicide of Maj Gen Abed Hamed Mowhoush in 2003.

Prosecutors said Gen Mowhoush was tied, placed headfirst in a sleeping bag and died with an officer sitting on him.

Welshofer has thanked his military "family" for supporting his defence.

"The military is a family when you get right down to it," he told a TV station in the US state of Colorado, according to the AFP news agency.

"I can't thank them enough for their support," he said.

'Room to make mistakes'

The jury in Welshofer's court martial trial said he must receive a reprimand for his actions and ordered him to forfeit $6,000 of his salary.

He was also ordered to be confined to his base and place of worship for 60 days.

Before being sentenced, Welshofer apologised for his actions and pleaded with the jury not to send him to jail.

The jury of six army officers had found Welshofer not guilty of the murder of Mowhoush in 2003 - a charge that could have seen the married father-of-three jailed for life.

He was found guilty of the lesser charges of negligent homicide and dereliction of duty, which carry a jail term of up to three years.

After the sentencing, Welshofer's lawyer, Frank Spinner, was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying: "When you send our men and women over there to fight... you've got to give them enough room to make mistakes without treating them like criminals."

Mowhoush was one of several prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan whose deaths were under investigation by the US military.

He died while 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.

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