British Security Contractor Held by Iraqis in Fatal Shootings of Two Colleagues

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, August 10, 2009

BAGHDAD, Aug. 9 -- A British private security contractor was taken into custody by Iraqi authorities in Baghdad's Green Zone on Sunday after he fatally shot two colleagues, Iraqi officials said.

The gunman, identified as Danny Fitzsimons, also shot an Iraqi as he attempted to flee the compound where the shootings occurred, according to Iraqi officials and two other sources familiar with the incident. The Iraqi man was critically wounded, said Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman at Iraq's Interior Ministry.

The case could mark the first time a foreign security contractor faces trial in Iraq in a homicide case.

"I can confirm the deaths of two ArmorGroup Iraq employees in the early hours of this morning in a firefight incident," company spokesman Patrick Toyne-Sewell said in an e-mail. He identified the slain men as Paul McGuigan, a Briton, and Darren Hoare, an Australian. Toyne-Sewell said the two men's relatives had been notified. "We are working closely with Iraqi authorities to investigate the circumstances of their deaths," he said.

Khalaf said Fitzsimons got into a dispute with colleagues as they were drinking. "They got into an argument and he started shooting his colleagues," Khalaf said.

U.S. soldiers took Fitzsimons into custody shortly after the shootings and promptly turned him over to Iraqi officials. The compound where the shootings occurred is controlled by the Research Triangle Institute, a North Carolina-based organization. Two U.S.-funded nonprofit groups, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, are based there.

Khalaf said Fitzsimons is being held at an Iraqi police detention facility.

Jawwad Syed, a spokesman at the British Embassy in Baghdad, said two Britons were detained in the incident. He did not provide their names. He said the men had been visited by consular officials.

"We're trying to get information from the Iraqis about what may have happened," Syed said.

Iraqi officials said Fitzsimons was the only person they took into custody.

The presence of foreign security contractors in Iraq is controversial because some have been accused of using unnecessary force against Iraqis.

Most foreign contractors were exempt from prosecution under Iraqi law until Jan. 1, when a security agreement between Iraq and the United States replaced the United Nations resolution that had given them broad immunity.

Special correspondent Qais Mizher contributed to this report.

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