Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Murder Charge Briton Danny Fitzsimons may face psychiatric tests

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 1, 2009

Lawyers for Daniel Fitzsimons, the British security contractor accused of shooting dead two colleagues in Baghdad, have asked for him to be moved to a psychiatric unit in an attempt to head off a murder trial that could lead to a death sentence.

Fitzsimons, a former paratrooper, was taken to Baghdad’s central criminal court today for a pre-trial hearing in which several witnesses were due to testify that he had been involved in the late night shooting in the city’s international zone in August. But the case was unexpectedly adjourned until 15 November after a lawyer for one of the victims asked for more time to prepare his case.

Several minutes before the trial was due to begin, Fitzsimons met his lawyer, the high-profile Iraqi legal figure Tareq Harb, for the first time. His pre-trial briefing amounted to a five-minute conversation outside the court room and a phone call to his UK-based solicitor, John Tipple.Harb said the court was obliged to agree to his request to move Fitzsimons to a psychiatric unit in Baghdad’s Rashad Hospital, where he will be evaluated by three psychiatrists. He is understood to have been treated in the UK for a psychological condition.

The trial was adjourned until November 15. Before the hearing,Earlier, Judge Saad Dawoud Suleiman, who will preside over the case – the first of its kind since full judicial rights were handed back to Iraqi authorities on 30 June – said Fitzsimons would face a death penalty if convicted.

“This is a very serious case,” he said in his chambers inside the fortified court house on the edge of the international zone. “The death penalty is on the statutes for such a crime.”

An official from the British embassy in Baghdad was at the court, as was a representative from ArmorGroup, which had contracted Fitzsimons to return to Iraq for a third tour as a security contractor several weeks before the alleged incident. An Iraqi guard who was wounded in the alleged attack, in which Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare were killed, was also present, along with members of his family.

In the hours after the shooting, Fitzsimons signed a statement allegedly confessing to the shootings. But today he told the Guardian he could not remember the night of the shooting and planned to withdraw the confession. “I was under the influence of the drugs they gave me at the time,” he said. “I don’t remember a thing.”

Iraqi investigators say in the hours before the shooting, McGuigan and Hoare had gone to Fitzsimons’s room in the ArmorGroup compound and provoked him. They claim the pair had then sat with Fitzsimons, who had been drinking. Shortly afterwards a violent row allegedly erupted.

The prisoner advocacy group Reprieve is now also lobbying for Fitzsimons, whom and his UK legal team want him extradited to the UKhome to stand trial.

“Reprieve are now formally part of the UK legal team,” said Tipple. “They are playing a proactive role and taking it very seriously.”

Iraq has indicated it will take a tough stance with Fitzsimons, who is the first foreign national to be tried under Iraqi law since the American military withdrew to its bases in June. Senior officials have so far indicated they will not agree to any extradition request.However, Mr Harb said yesterday that the Central Criminal Court is obligated to agree to his request to move Mr Fitzsimons to a psychiatric unit in Baghdad’s Rashad Hospital, where he will be evaluated by three psychiatrists. He is understood to have been treated in the UK for a psychological condition.

3 Responses to “Murder Charge Briton Danny Fitzsimons may face psychiatric tests”

  1. caroline mcdonald said

    I feel that iraq will try to make an example of Danny Fitzsimons, he is clearly in need of psychiatric help and support, no one really knows what happend that fateful night, by trying him in Iraq is totally unfair, lets face it that Country is as currupt as it get’s, If Danny goes to the gallows then shame on them and shame on the British Government for not interveining and looking after someone who fought for his Country, which, has left him in this vulnerable condition in the first place. We all know what he did was a terrible act, however, he should be tried on the grounds on deminished responsibility, but he must be tried here as the iraq’s dont know the meaning of the words diminished responsibility. Two wrongs dont make a right, hanging him will show the rest of the world that Iraq is no better than it was, even after Saddam Hussain’s death, there still as barbaric as ever.

  2. Melissa Benton said

    There are truly no winners in this awful case. But if Danny Fitzsimons is extradited to the UK for a trial, he wll not be held accountable for the murder of the Australian he killed…Is that fair?

    What about him? What about his family?

    If I commit a crime in the USA or the UK I would be tried in that country….not the country I was born in.

    There are many factors at play here….

    Diminished resposibility or not this man needs to be held accountable for ALL the crimes he has committed not just the murder of a British Citizen

  3. Shane Brew said

    If you do the crime you do the time. What happens to an Australian who gets caught trafficking drugs in Bali???Death Sentence. What happens if any foreign national gets caught trafficking drugs in Australia. A jail sentence, not even life. These contractors including Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan were all aware of the law change in Iraq. They new that if they were to commit such a crime that would result in an Iraqi trial they would be fucked. I wonder what this Daniel fella had going on in his head at the time. Was he suicidal? If so, to take other people’s lives, knowing that he would be given the death sentence is an extreme measure. After reading loads of stories about Daniel Fitzsimons it sounds to me that he brain was twisted before he joined the military. Maybe the Brits defence force screening system failed to recognise his mental state. If this was the case, he then produced a Defence Force qualification to ArmorGroup. Was his mental state screened the first, second and third time he worked for this company, or was ArmorGroup happy that he was a “paratrooper” in the Defence Force and that was enough for them. Either way, my thoughts, ArmorGroup is liable and Daniel Fitzsimons is guilty for his actions that he committed in Iraq where he should be tried. Let their justice system take its place. My thoughts and condolences go to the family’s of the 2 victums. So far they are the ones who seem to be suffering the most. This will never stop for them. By Daniel killing his 2 collegues, he has given their families a life sentence.

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