ArmorGroup Security Contractor Danny Fitzsimons Trial
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 23, 2011
We ask again why ArmorGroup is not on trial for endangering the lives of everyone they exposed to an armed Danny Fitzsimons
Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare are dead because of ArmorGroup’s negligence in failing to Vet a mentally ill employee with a pending weapons charge in England, previous convictions, and known alcohol and drug problems.
And who paid the families of the dead? The Defense Base Act Exclusive Remedy relieved ArmorGroup of responsibility despite negligence but the DBA does not pay when alcohol is involved.
“Upon arrival, he was given an M4 rifle, a pistol and a bullet-proof vest which he set down in his room before meeting with an old friend he had made during a previous tour in Iraq, where he worked with three different firms before joining ArmorGroup.
Fitzsimons and his friend, another ArmorGroup security guard who was identified only as Kevin, bought two bottles of whiskey before settling in Kevin’s trailer in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone to chat over drinks.”
Daniel Fitzsimons denies murder of two colleagues in Iraq
British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has given his first courtroom account of the drunken night that has left him facing a possible death sentence.
Daniel Fitzsimons, a former paratrooper, told a criminal court in Baghdad today that he was not guilty of murdering Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in August 2009, but was guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, after he responded to taunts from both men.
Fitzsimons claims he was watching a DVD with a colleague from his army days, Kevin Milson, when McGuigan joined them. Fitzsimons had returned to Baghdad just over 24 hours earlier, following two previous tours with other security companies. He said he did not know McGuigan, but claimed intra-military tensions soon played out between them.
“Paul was with the marines and I was with the Parachute Regiment and as everyone knows there is rivalry between the two,” he said. “He started to insult me and insulted two friends of mine who had died in Iraq. I punched him in the nose and said ‘come on, fight me’.”
Fitzsimons’s testimony was similar to an account he gave to the Guardian in March last year. He claims to have been provoked, first in Milson’s room and then, later, in his own cabin, where he had returned to use the internet.
“I had been on the internet for an hour and then slept and then my door crashed in,” he said. “I saw Paul McGuigan and the Australian man, Darren Hoare. They kicked me in the face with their sandals. They wanted to kill me. It was shameful for a soldier.
“Paul took my M4 [assault rifle] from beside my bed and pointed it at me. He said ‘I am going to kill you’. I raised my pistol and shouted to Paul twice to put down his weapon, but he did not respond. Then I made my decision, as an old soldier, as a trained soldier, I shot him twice in the chest and a third time in his face as he fell.
“The Australian then tried to fight me for the pistol. He went for the trigger and tried to turn the pistol to my neck. He was shouting that he was going to kill me. He was much bigger than me. I pulled the trigger and put two, maybe three bullets in his chest.”
Fitzsimons had been diagnosed in Britain with post-traumatic stress disorder, but the Iraqi court is yet to decide whether that will be used in his defence. Iraqi medical experts have twice found that Fitzsimons was suffering no particular emotional disorder at the time of the killings.
The judge, Ali Yousef, questioned Fitzsimons on forensic evidence prepared for a coroner, which said powder burns were absent from Hoare’s body, not supporting Fitzsimons’s account of a close contact struggle during which fatal shots were fired from a short range.
Fitzsimons said: “I think the evidence was manipulated by the security company. The crime scene was changed.”
Salam Abdul Kareem, a lawyer for the victims’ families, urged the court to hand down the maximum sentence, which is death by hanging, or life imprisonment. “He did not stop shooting until all 14 bullets were finished,” he said.
McGuigan’s relatives and former fiancee in Britain have strongly challenged Fitzsimons’s version of events, claiming McGuigan was executed.
The case was adjourned until 20 February, when a verdict is expected. Please see the original here