11/24/2004

Soldier Charged With Murdering Iraqi

FORT HOOD, Texas - A U.S. soldier was arrested and jailed on murder charges Wednesday in the death of an Iraqi civilian in January.

Staff Sgt. Shane Werst, 31, of El Toro, Calif., is accused of killing the Iraqi man while serving with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Carson, Colo.

He is one of a number of Fort Carson-based soldiers charged with crimes in Iraq (news - web sites). Two other members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team are charged with manslaughter in the alleged drowning of an Iraqi pushed off a bridge into the Tigris River in January.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington, a spokesman at Fort Hood, said charges were filed against Werst within days after another soldier came forward to report the alleged crime.

Withington would not say how the victim, identified as Naser Ismail, died. He said only that Ismail was taken into custody by Werst's unit during a 'cordon-and-search' operation in the Iraqi city of Balad on Jan. 3.

Werst was also charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to 'impede an investigation and influence witnesses by directing other soldiers to alter their statements regarding the murder of Naser Ismail,' the Army said.

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