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Monday, November 10, 2003

Incident: Death in custody, Mowhoush

Abed Hamed Mowhoush was a Major General in the Republican Guard. According to some reports, he turned himself in to coalition forces today. Over the next month, we will be taken to Qaim and interrogated. In 16 day's time, he will be dead.

One day after his death, the Guardian will report on his death and the Pentagon statement released regarding it.

"Mowhoush said he didn't feel well and subsequently lost consciousness," the [military] statement said. "The soldier questioning him found no pulse and called for medical authorities. A surgeon responded within five minutes to continue advanced cardiac life support techniques, but they were ineffective." He was pronounced dead by a US military physician.

According to the on-site surgeon it appeared Gen Mowhoush had died of "natural causes", the military said, adding that his death was being investigated.

On 19 May 2004, the Denver Post will obtain leaked Pentagon documents (archived here) revealing that the initial statement released by the military was untrue. The leaked documents will reveal that Mowhoush was shoved into a sleeping bag and rolled around while in it. Then a soldier sat on his chest and covered his mouth with his hands, and Mowhoush was suffocated to death.

Further, the leaked documents will show that the investigation was finalised in January. It led to the soldiers receiving reprimands, and being barred from further interviews.

Subsequent to the Denver Post scoop, military officials will start claiming that the investigation is still ongoing. Further investigations will reveal that Mowhoush had actually suffered substantial abuses, including being slapped, beaten with fists, beaten with hose-pipe, and having a heavy box thrown at him.

As of 05 April 2005, four soldiers face murder charges. As per usual, they will maintain that their commanders approved of their methods.

On 01 December 2005, a Washington Post article will reveal that the initial false reports were also planted in the Iraqi press as part of the US military's "psychological operations". After his death, a news release said Mowhoush had cooperated and died of natural causes, and local communities were notified that he had identified key insurgents in the area, when he had not.

In early 2006, testimony opened to the public during the trial will reveal further abuse Mowhoush suffered, including being beaten the night before his death by civilian contractors, and having his elbows beaten with nightsticks.

According to press reports, a witness said he spoke with Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. on Nov. 25, 2003, the day before Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush's death at an Iraqi detention camp.

The witness said he asked Welshofer if he was aware of a memorandum from Welshofer's commanding general that required authorization for the use of certain interrogation techniques. "He said he was aware of them, but said he was pretty sure they were breaking those rules every day," said the witness.

On 21 January 2006, a panel of six Army officers will save Welshofer the more serious charge of murder and instead convict him of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty.

Attorneys for Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. said he believed the general had information that would "break the back of the whole insurgency" at a time when soldiers were being killed in an increasingly lethal and bold resistance.