Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Delay in Briton's Iraq murder trial

Danny Fitzsimons, center, walks out of an Iraqi court in Baghdad (AP)
Danny Fitzsimons, center, walks out of an Iraqi court in Baghdad (AP)

The verdict in the case of a British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Baghdad has been delayed again while the court studies his claim to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Danny Fitzsimons, 30, from Greater Manchester, was escorted by police into a Baghdad courtroom on Sunday.

He is the first Westerner to be tried by an Iraqi court since the start of the war nearly eight years ago and faces the death penalty if convicted.

He is charged with the murder of a British and Australian contractor with whom he worked, and with attempting to kill an Iraqi guard.

Fitzsimons told a three-judge panel last month that he was acting in self-defence when he shot his ArmorGroup colleagues Paul McGuigan, a former Royal Marine from Peebles in the Scottish Borders, and Australian Darren Hoare.

He pleaded not guilty to the killings but asked the judges to consider a plea agreement that would convict him on lesser manslaughter charges.

His account that the men had threatened to kill him after a whisky-fuelled brawl in Baghdad's Green Zone has been disputed by Mr McGuigan's fiancee Nicci Prestage.

Fitzsimons, 30, could receive the death penalty if convicted of murder. His father and brother attended the session in a Baghdad court and said they had been able to meet with him the day before for the first time since he was arrested.

"We spent about five hours talking about old times because we missed him for a few years," said his father, Eric, while sitting along with his younger son, Michael, outside the courtroom.

Fitzsimons' father, a 62-year old school teacher from Manchester, said his son Danny was "in good shape" and "talking properly" but his mental state "is not good".

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