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Danny Fitzsimons, British Contractor Accused Of Killing 2 Colleagues, Appears In Iraqi Court

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BAGHDAD — A British security contractor accused of shooting two colleagues to death made an initial appearance in an Iraqi court, a step to determine if there is sufficient evidence to charge him with murder, Iraqi and British officials said Tuesday.

The contractor could be the first Westerner to face an Iraqi trial since a security pact lifted the immunity that foreign contractors had for most of the war.

Danny Fitzsimons appeared briefly Monday in a Baghdad court, where a judge requested autopsy results of the two victims, said Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, a court spokesman.

"If there is evidence, the case will be transferred to an Iraqi court for an official charge," Bayrkdar said.

Fitzsimons remained in Iraqi custody Tuesday at a Baghdad police station, he said.

British consular officials also met with Fitzsimons and provided him with a list of attorneys, said British Embassy spokesman Jawwad Syed.

Fitzsimons and the two victims worked for British security firm ArmorGroup Iraq.

A U.S.-Iraqi security pact that took effect Jan. 1 lifted the immunity that foreign contractors had in Iraq. Iraqi authorities had pressed for the lifting of immunity after a September 2007 shooting in Baghdad involving another security firm, North Carolina-based Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe. That shooting left as many as 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

Fitzsimons is accused of shooting two colleagues, a Briton and an Australian, during a fight Sunday in Baghdad's protected Green Zone and then wounding an Iraqi while fleeing.

The shooting occurred in the compound operated by Research Triangle Institute, the headquarters of two U.S.-funded nonprofit groups – the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.

The dead have been identified as Paul McGuigan of Scotland and Darren Hoare of Australia.

ArmorGroup identified the wounded Iraqi as Arkhan Mahdi, an employee of the company. The security group says he was shot and is recovering in a hospital.

ArmorGroup described Mcguigan and Hoare as veteran security contractors.

McGuigan, 37, was a former British marine who went to work for ArmorGroup in 2003, according to a company statement. It said McGuigan was working as a team leader in charge of a personal security detail.

ArmorGroup said McGuigan was married and his wife was expecting a child.

Hoare, 37, from Queensland, Australia, worked for the security company for more than four years, primarily on personal security details, ArmorGroup said. Prior to joining the company, Hoare served in the Australian air force, which included a deployment to Iraq, the statement said.

In another case involving the death of a foreign contractor, Iraqi authorities detained five American contractors in June, but released them after an initial court appearance due to a lack of evidence.

Authorities are still investigating the stabbing of James Kitterman of Houston, who was found dead in his car in the Green Zone on May 22.


Associated Press writers Hadeel al-Shalchi and Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.

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