Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Iraq murder trial verdict delayed

Paul McGuigan was gunned down in Iraq alongside Australian Darren Hoare in August 2009

A British security contractor on trial for murdering two colleagues in Iraq will have to wait until next month to find out his fate.

The case of Danny Fitzsimons, 30, from Greater Manchester, has been adjourned to February 20 to allow the court to consider his mental state at the time of the shooting in August 2009. He is the first Westerner to be tried by an Iraqi court since the start of the Iraq war nearly eight years ago.

Fitzsimons told a three-judge panel that he was acting in self-defence when he shot his ArmorGroup colleagues Paul McGuigan, from Peebles in the Scottish Borders, and Australian Darren Hoare, claiming that they had threatened to kill him after a whisky-fuelled brawl in Baghdad's Green Zone.

Fitzsimons told the court he was held at gunpoint by former Royal Marine Mr McGuigan, 37, while Mr Hoare pushed him to the ground.

He said: "I was seconds away from my death so I pulled my pistol," AP reported. "I shouted twice (for Mr McGuigan) to put down the weapon. He didn't respond to my commands, my requests, so I made a decision. I shot him twice in the chest."

Fitzsimons said he fired a third shot in Mr McGuigan's face, and got into a wrestling match with Mr Hoare.

Mr Hoare "was trying to push the pistol to my throat to kill me ... and while we were wrestling I fired two shots in the chest," Fitzsimons said. "I made the decision and pulled the trigger."

Fitzsimons fled the scene and was running towards the British Embassy when an Iraqi guard who was at a guard post pointed his rifle at him and asked him to stop. Fitzsimons shot him in his left thigh.

He is charged with two counts of murder and attempting to kill the guard. He could receive the death penalty if convicted on the murder charges. Fitzsimons pleaded not guilty to the killings but asked the judges to consider a plea agreement that would convict him on lesser manslaughter charges.

Iraqi law requires defendants to enter their formal pleas at the end of the trial.

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