FORT CARSON, Colo. (AP) — A military jury recommended a simple reprimand Monday for an Army officer who killed an Iraqi general by stuffing him headfirst into a sleeping bag and sitting on his chest during an interrogation.
As soldiers applauded in the courtroom, Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. hugged his wife after hearing the surprisingly light sentence, which will be reviewed by Fort Carson's commander, Maj. Gen. Robert W. Mixon.
The commander cannot order a harsher sentence, defense attorney Frank Spinner said.
Welshofer, 43, was charged with murder, but was convicted over the weekend of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty that carried a penalty of up to three years and three months in prison, a dishonorable discharge, loss of pension and other penalties.
The murder charge carried a potential sentence of life in prison. Instead, Welshofer faces no jail time, the forfeiture of $6,000 in salary and what amounts largely to a restriction to his barracks for 60 days.
"I have the utmost respect for the decision the panel members came to tonight," Welshofer said. "I'm sure it was difficult for them."
Welshofer was convicted of putting a sleeping bag over the head of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, sitting on his chest and using his hand to cover the general's mouth while asking him questions at a detention camp in 2003 in al Qaim, Iraq.
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