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Iraqi Court Jails British Guard for Killing Colleagues


Iraqi policemen escort British security contractor, Danny Fitzsimons, outside a court in Baghdad, February 28, 2011

Iraqi policemen escort British security contractor, Danny Fitzsimons, outside a court in Baghdad, February 28, 2011

A court in Iraq has given a life sentence to a British security contractor for killing two of his colleagues in 2009. Danny Fitzsimons is the first Westerner to be sentenced in an Iraqi court since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Fitzsimons’ Iraqi lawyer Tariq Harb said he was very happy with the sentence.

Harb explained that a life sentence in Iraq amounts to a 20 year sentence. And that a year in prison in Iraq is nine months. That means a 20 year sentence will in fact be 15 years.

He said he would try to get that sentence reduced at a higher criminal court.

Danny Fitzsimons was charged with murder in 2009 after killing two fellow security contractors inside Baghdad’s Green Zone. He shot Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare, and also wounded an Iraqi guard.

Fitzsimons admitted shooting the men but said he had acted in self-defense.

He was facing a possible death sentence but the judge said Monday that punishment had not been handed down because Fitzsimons, age 30, is still young and because of the circumstances of the crime.

An unidentified official at the British Embassy in Baghdad said the embassy respects the independence of the Iraqi judicial system and the court verdict.

"We will continue to offer assistance for Mr. Fitzsimons. At this time we should also remember the families of those who died in the tragic incident Mr. Fitzsimons was on trial for," the official said.

Fitzsimons’ family was due to meet with British officials in London on Monday to talk about the possibility of him serving his sentence in Britain.

Security contractors have been subject to Iraqi law since 2009. Iraq previously complained that such contractors had been acting recklessly.

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