By Kimberly Hogan-Wood
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD Three 4th Infantry Division soldiers have been charged with manslaughter in the January death of an Iraqi man who drowned in the Tigris River after being forced to jump off a bridge in Samarra.
Another Iraqi also was told to jump, a division spokesman said Friday at Fort Hood. The man survived, and another soldier is facing assault charges in the Jan. 3 incident.
The soldiers are from the 4th Infantry's 3rd Brigade at Fort Carson, Colo. The Iraqis were in violation of the curfew implemented during the Iraqi occupation, a division news release stated.
"It is alleged that the two were forced in the river by the soldiers," Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington confirmed. He would not comment further.
The division also is investigating two more incidents, said Withington, the division's public affairs officer.
"To say anything regarding those investigations would be nothing more than speculation on my part," he said.
In one, the Associated Press reported the two Fort Carson soldiers are under investigation in the death of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who was smothered last fall while in their custody.
Charged in the Jan. 3 drowning death were 1st Lt. Jack M. Saville and Sgt. 1st Class Tracy E. Perkins. They were formally charged with manslaughter, assault, conspiracy, false statements and obstruction of justice on June 7. Two more soldiers, Sgt. Reggie Martinez and Spc. Terry Bowman, were charged on June 28.
Martinez is charged with manslaughter and making an official false statement. Bowman is charged with assault and making a false statement.
The soldiers are from the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment. They are not in pre-trial confinement at Fort Carson, Withington said.
The investigation began after Lt. Col. Tracy Barnes, the division's staff judge advocate, said former 3rd Brigade commander Col. Frederick Rudesheim was notified of the incident by friends and family of the victims.
After a brigade-level investigation, Rudesheim decided the incident was serious enough to bring in the Army's Criminal Investigation Division, Barnes said.
Army investigators determined there was enough evidence to bring charges against the soldiers, Barnes said.
"There has been a detailed and concerted investigation by the 4th Infantry Division and the CID, and now one will be conducted in the Article 32 investigation," Barnes said.
The investigation was complicated by conflicting accounts, Scripps Howard News Service reported Friday. The Army denied as recently as May 24 that anyone had been killed in the incident, based on its questioning of the soldiers, but accounts by other witnesses prompted the charges.
Three soldiers eventually were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony, Scripps reported.
Withington said two soldiers have received administrative nonjudicial punishment as a result of the incident. They received their punishment before the division left Iraq in March.
Their punishment was issued by Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, the division's commander while it was on its yearlong deployment that spanned three provinces north of Baghdad known as the Sunni Triangle.
The north-central Iraq area was a hotbed of resistance against the U.S.-led coalition until the division's Dec. 13 capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a Sunni.
In a speech last month to Killeen Rotarians, Odierno said his troops, working in towns such as Baqouba, Beiji, Samarra and Kirkuk, picked up more than 10,000 people, or about two-thirds of the detainees in Iraq.
"Our area of operation included about 75 percent of the Sunni population," Odierno said.
Withington said the 4th Infantry takes pride in its ability to set the standard for behavior in Iraq and will continue to ensure that violations of the laws of war and Geneva Conventions are investigated and prosecuted.
He insisted the result will show the incidents are isolated cases and limited to a few soldiers within the division's ranks.
"The vast majority of the thousands of 4th Infantry Division soldiers served honorably, and the UCMJ is going to do its job. These soldiers are innocent until proven guilty," Withington said.
"The Army is doing the right thing here," Withington said.
The latest charges are not the first levied within the ranks of the 4th Infantry.
During an incident last fall, Odierno stirred controversy after he pursued charges against one of his battalion commanders for firing a weapon near the head of an Iraqi detainee in Taji. The Iraqi policeman submitted, offering details to Lt. Col. Allen B. West that prevented what many of his supporters say would have been a fatal attack on the field artillery unit.
After an article 32 hearing in Tikrit, the division's base while in Iraq, Odierno relieved West of his command, fined him $2,000 and allowed him to retire early for disregarding U.S. military and international law on the handling of prisoners.
Contact Kimberly Hogan-Wood at email@example.com