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Briton sentenced to life for 2 murders in Iraq

Baghdad, February 28, 2011

An Iraqi court sentenced a British security contractor on Monday to life in prison for killing two colleagues in 2009.

Daniel Fitzsimons had faced a possible death sentence after he was arrested in August 2009 over the shootings of Paul McGuigan, a Briton, and Darren Hoare, an Australian.

"The criminal court...issued a life imprisonment sentence on the Briton charged with killing his colleagues at work," said Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, spokesman for Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council.

Birqdar said it was the first time a Westerner had been convicted by an Iraqi court since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

Fitzsimons' lawyer, Tariq Harb, said under Iraqi law, a life imprisonment sentence was 20 years.

"It is a good result. The sentence is a low sentence ... I saved him from being hanged," Harb said.

"We still have to appeal it in the appeal court, which is the highest court after the criminal court," he said.

Security contractors, who poured into Iraq after the invasion, were subjected to Iraqi law at the start of 2009 after the expiration of a UN mandate that covered their presence.

In Fitzsimons' case, authorities said he and his two colleagues, all employees of the ArmorGroup private security firm, had been drinking when an argument broke out. – Reuters




Tags: Iraq | murder | contractor | Briton |

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