Danny Fitzsimons from Death Row in Iraq: Left to rot
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 1, 2010
UPDATE: His murder trial was scheduled to begin at Baghdad’s Central Criminal Court on Wednesday (Aug 4) but was adjourned again while psychiatric tests are carried out on the defendant. A new trial date is expected in mid-September, a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
Danny Fitzsimons, once a member of the Parachute Regiment – a hero. Now he sits in a cell on Iraq’s Death Row facing death by hanging.
Editor’s note: G4S and Armorgroup have accepted no responsibility, nor will they be prosecuted for so negligently arming a man as mentally ill as Mr. Fitzsimons. Negligence that resulted in the deaths of two men, one seriously injured, children orphaned, women widowed, and families bereft. Negligence that doomed Mr Fitzsimons to this hell as well as he did by his own hand.
Soldier-turned-mercenary Danny Fitzsimons is awaiting trial in Baghdad for shooting dead two men and wounding a third.
But speaking exclusively to the Sunday Mirror, he insists he is the victim of a terrible injustice and begs the Government to secure his release and bring him home.
He says he killed his victims in self-defence as he battled terrible mental trauma from the nine years he spent serving in Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.
Fitzsimons, 30, from Middleton, Manchester, says: “I know my actions that night have caused a lot of pain to the relatives of the dead men. To their families and children I am truly sorry. I believe I need to be in a mental hospital in Britain and not in an inhumane dungeon in Baghdad. Many ex-soldiers like me are left to fight our demons alone.
“I stand little chance of a fair trial in Iraq and the psychiatric assessment here was a joke. Bring me home and let me get the help I so desperately need. I chose my life and stand by it but I don’t believe I deserve to be left to rot. Please don’t let me hang in Iraq.”
Fitzsimons shares his cockroachand rat-infested cell at Karadat Maryam police station with 17 other prisoners.
He says: “I’m being fed by some of my jail mates. Without them I would not have proper food or be able to take water.
“They don’t let us in the yard for air or sun and it’s like living in an oven in the cell. It is overrun with cockroaches and rats and filth.”
Fitzsimons was in Iraq as a military contractor working for British private security firm ArmorGroup, who he says took him on without carrying out a full medical assessment. Had the truth emerged, they would have found out he was discharged from 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment after being diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.
He also had alcohol problems and was facing criminal charges for brandishing a flare gun at children outside his flat in Middleton. On his third visit to Iraq, last August, he was drinking with two fellow mercenaries when a row started. Fitzsimons says he punched Scottish ex-Royal Marine Paul McGuigan, 37, before the two made up. But he says later that night Paul and the second man, Australian father-ofthree Darren Hoare, also 37, attacked him. He says: “The two men came into my room with clear intention of doing me harm and attacked me in my bed in a drunken rage.” He says they threatened to kill him with an M4 assault rifle and he shot them three times with a Glock pistol. As he fled he shot an Iraqi security guard in the leg. He says: “I did exactly what I’ve been trained to do since 1996. I acted in self-defence to save my life.”
Paul’s fiancée Nicola Prestage disagrees, saying it was “an unprovoked attack”. Fitzsimons, who has been locked up for a year, is due to go before a judge on Wednesday for a trial date to be set. Iraqi doctors are assessing his mental health.
Clive Stafford Smith, of Human rights charity Reprieve, said: “It is unfathomable ArmorGroup would dispatch him and arm him in a war zone without proper screening.”
A spokesman for ArmorGroup admitted Fitzsimons’ screening was not completed in line with their procedures but added: “We received two separate medical documents which certified that Mr Fitzsimons was fit to work in Iraq. It has subsequently come to light that the most recent of those documents was forged – we have reason to believe it was forged by Mr Fitzsimons.”