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WüRZBURG, Germany — A 1st Infantry Division senior noncommissioned officer was charged this week with killing one prisoner and mistreating others last fall during the unit’s deployment to Iraq.

Sgt. 1st Class Jorge L. Diaz, 34, of Company C, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, appeared Wednesday before a military judge in Würzburg.

The 1st ID’s staff judge advocate released a list of the charges Friday.

Diaz, a 17-year veteran, pleaded innocent to one count of premeditated murder, one count of maltreating a prisoner, two counts of assault, one count of making a false official statement and one count of trying to impede an investigation.

Diaz is accused of committing the crimes during a cordon- and-search operation of Iraqi buildings near Balad on Oct. 24-25. According to the charge sheet, Diaz is alleged to have forced a blindfolded prisoner on Oct. 24 to hold a smoke grenade with the pin pulled, pointed a pistol to his head, and punched and choked him.

The next day, during a separate search, he allegedly shot and killed an Iraqi, Thaher Khaleefa Ahmed.

Diaz also is accused of telling his soldiers to lie about the incident and of falsely telling an Army investigator that Ahmed had made a threatening movement toward him.

According to the charge sheet, prosecutors do not intend to seek the death penalty.

A trial is tentatively scheduled for early May.

The Diaz case is the latest involving alleged abuse of Iraqi terror suspects by U.S. soldiers.

Sgt. Michael Williams and Spc. Brent May of the 1st Cavalry Division were charged in September with premeditated murder in the deaths of three Iraqis.

Chief warrant officers Jefferson Williams and Lewis Welshofer Jr., Sgt. 1st Class William Sommer and Spc. Jerry Loper of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment were charged in October in the November 2003 death of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abid Hamid Mawhoush during questioning.

Pat Dickson contributed to this report from Washington.


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