WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Four U.S. soldiers have been charged with cruelty and maltreatment of four subordinates in Iraq after a suicide investigation brought to light alleged wrongdoing, the military said Friday.
There is no confirmed evidence that the suicide, which involved a fifth subordinate in the unit, was a result of any mistreatment, said Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, a spokesman for Multi-National Division-South, who said the military is looking into that possibility.
Charges were brought Wednesday against three sergeants and a specialist with the 13th Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Bliss, Texas, accusing them of engaging in "verbal abuse, physical punishment and ridicule of subordinates," according to Olson. He described the physical punishment as falling into the category of "undue calisthenics."
"Accusations of cruelty and maltreatment are taken very seriously, and we will investigate this isolated incident thoroughly," said Brig. Gen. David Elicerio, deputy commanding general for Multi-National Division-South.
Olson said the Army does not believe the maltreatment of subordinates went beyond the soldiers' unit.
The four were identified as:
All four soldiers have been removed from their unit.
Olson said Army officials have spoken to the four subordinate soldiers and are offering them any help they need.
The suicide investigation began on August 4, Olson said.
On that day, a Defense Department news release said that Pvt. Keiffer P. Wilhelm, 19, of Plymouth, Ohio, died in Iraq of injuries sustained from a noncombat-related incident. He was assigned to a unit from the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, the release said.