Trial adjourned of former soldier, Danny Fitzsimons, accused of murder in Iraq
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 7, 2010
British former soldier’s Iraq murder trial adjourned
The trial of a British security guard accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has been adjourned for two months for psychiatric assessments.
The trial of a British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has been adjourned for two months so he can undergo psychiatric tests.
Former paratrooper Danny Fitzsimons, 29, is charged with shooting dead fellow ArmorGroup employees Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare, both 37, in Baghdad’s green zone in August last year.
Fitzsimons, who could face the death penalty if he is convicted, appeared at the central criminal court in Baghdad for a pre-trial hearing today.
Reprieve, a legal charity supporting Fitzsimons, said his case was adjourned until 13 June, apparently so he could be examined by a psychiatric team at Baghdad’s Al Rashad psychiatric hospital.
In a detailed account of the killings given to the Guardian earlier this month, Fitzsimons admitted shooting both men dead but insisted he acted in self-defence.
Fitzsimons said he shot McGuigan, a former Royal Marine from Innerleithen in Scotland, three times when McGuigan allegedly pointed an assault rifle at him.
He said Hoare, from Australia, was killed during a fight that followed. All three men had been contracted to work as guards for ArmorGroup, a British security company.
Fitzsimons – who faces two counts of murder and one of the attempted murder of an Iraqi guard – and his lawyers claim he acted in self-defence and was suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder after a previous tour of Iraq and service in the military in the former Yugoslavia.
His lawyers, who are aware of his admission to the Guardian, claim he should never have been allowed to work for a security company given his condition and record. This defence is disputed by relatives of McGuigan, who say Fitzsimons is trying to escape justice by concocting a story of a drunken fight when none occurred.
Fitzsimons has admitted his recollection was at points “blotchy” because of heavy drinking and claimed McGuigan and Hoare had been harassing him throughout the evening.
Fitzsimons said in a statement issued through Reprieve: “I miss my family very much but I’m grateful for the support I have been getting from home, particularly from my former comrades who know a bit about what we all went through. I know that this has been a tragedy and hurt a lot of people besides myself.”
He is understood to be the first westerner facing trial on murder charges in Iraq since an agreement giving foreign workers immunity was lifted.
The shootings took place in the early hours of 9 August last year, within 36 hours of Fitzsimons’s arrival in Baghdad to work for ArmorGroup.
It emerged after the killings that Fitzsimons had a conviction for firearms offences and was facing a possible jail term in Britain for firing a flare gun to scare off children on 1 April last year.
His family said he had suffered from alcoholism and depression and was a damaged individual who should never have been given a job as an armed security guard in Iraq.
They fear his mental state has deteriorated while awaiting trial, and are appealing for him to be allowed to serve any sentence he is given in Britain. Original here