Danny Fitzsimons was sentenced to life in prison for shooting dead a British and an Australian co-worker, and wounding an Iraqi guard. It's the first case of a Westerner being tried in an Iraqi court.
In a test of Iraq’s judicial sovereignty, an Iraqi court sentenced a British contractor who killed two co-workers to life in prison but spared him the death penalty.
It was the first case of a Westerner being tried in an Iraqi court since this nation regained sovereignty from the United States. In what appeared to be another first in Iraq, the court agreed that Danny Fitzsimons had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
In August 2009, hours after he arrived in the country to work for the ArmorGroup security firm, the former British paratrooper had downed a bottle of whisky, shot dead a British and an Australian co-worker, and wounded an Iraqi guard.
He admitted to the shootings but said he had acted in self-defense. A guilty verdict would normally have resulted in the death sentence. Under Iraqi law, life in prison is 15 years. Mr. Fitzsimons has already served 1-1/2 years of those while waiting for trial.
The sentence provides for an automatic appeal, which could further reduce it.
Fitzsimons, wearing a black suit and a tie, was led in handcuffs to the courtroom. His Iraqi lawyer, Tariq Harb, says he was relieved at the sentence.
“If he were sentenced in Britain or the United States he would have received at least 60 years,” says Mr. Harb. He says both the British medical report and one done by an Iraqi medical committee concluded that the horrors of the war in Kosovo and attacks while he was serving in Iraq had left him deeply troubled.