There’s something morally and legally sick that in post 2003 Iraq (and to this day) privatised mercenaries are the way the Western states maintain their power in the country:
A former British soldier potentially facing the death penalty in Iraq insisted that he remained anxious but hopeful as his case was adjourned last night.
Danny Fitzsimons prepared himself yesterday morning to hear the verdict as he was brought into the dock at Karkh criminal court in west Baghdad. Nearby his father Eric, 62, and younger brother Michael, 27, waited nervously in a packed public gallery having travelled to the war torn nation to be by his side for the final day of his trial.
“It has been a very emotional day, very anxious,” his brother said. “But seeing him in court gave us a sense of unity as a family”
But their 18 month wait to hear his fate was frustrated once again as the judge announced that he was adjourning the case for eight days as they were seeking clarification from doctors about psychiatric reports on the defendants.
Last night, speaking exclusively to The Independent at his cell at the Karadt Mariam police station within Baghdad’s International Zone, Mr Fitzsimons said he was heartened by the fact the court was focusing on the health reports. The former soldier has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress stemming from the horrors he saw while serving in the army in Kosovo as well as his time working as a private security contractor in Iraq. He could face execution if convicted.
“I think it was a postive step,” said the 30-year-old. “Obviously I hope to be acquitted for self defence but even manslaughter would be a result. I do remain hopeful but it is 50/50. Seeing my family today and having them in court what great. If wish it could have happened every time I was in court. I have felt 100 per cent better than I did before since they turned up yesterday.”
In August 2009, Mr Fitzsimons arrived in Baghdad, having been employed by ArmorGroup, owned by G4S, despite his mental health problems, the fact he had been sacked from two other security firms and was awaiting trial for assault in Britain. Within 36 hours he had shot fellow ArmorGroup security contractors, former Royal Marine Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare, and wounded Iraqi Arkhan Mahdi after a whiskey-fuelled brawl.
The first westerner to stand trial at a time when the Iraqi government is clamping down on security contractors who operated almost unchecked during the early days of the war, he has been charged with murdering the two 37-year-olds and attempting to kill the Iraqi guard.
Denying the charge Mr Fitzsimons asked a three-judge panel last month to consider a plea agreement that would convict him on lesser manslaughter charges.