Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Family of Iraq murder accused call for his return to UK

Danny Fitzsimons
Danny Fitzsimons was working as a private security guard

The family of a former soldier facing a possible death penalty in Iraq have said they are fighting to bring him home.

Danny Fitzsimons, 29, of Middleton in Greater Manchester, is accused of shooting dead two ArmorGroup workers in Baghdad's high-security Green Zone.

Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare were shot dead in August 2009. All three men were security guards.

Mr Fitzsimons' trial was adjourned for a third time on Thursday.

'Self preservation'

If convicted, he could be hanged.

Mr Fitzsimons is understood to be the first Westerner facing an Iraqi trial on murder charges since an agreement giving foreign workers immunity was lifted.

Liz Fitzsimons, 55, the soldier's stepmother, said she and her husband Eric were fighting through legal and political channels to get him a prison transfer to the UK.

She said she and her husband were trying not to think about the death sentence.

"I know it is in the frame and a possibility," she said.

"But I think for the sake of self preservation my husband and I don't dwell on that for a moment.

'Post-traumatic stress'

"Imagine if it was your son or brother who was facing a death penalty.

"We are setting our hopes on Danny getting a fair trial, a sentence and he is brought back here."

Mr Fitzsimons' family said he was already wanted by police in the UK when he went to Iraq, had suffered from alcoholism and depression and was a damaged individual who should never have been given a job as an armed security guard in Iraq.

His family said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from events he witnessed while serving eight years in the British Army, in the Balkans and Iraq.

Former commando

The family said the trial has been delayed because their lawyer, Tariq Harb, successfully argued it should be put back until after elections in Baghdad on 8 March.

It is due back in court in Baghdad on 7 April.

Mr McGuigan, 37, a former Royal Marines commando from Peebles in the Scottish Borders, had a son and was about to become a father for a second time.

Father-of-three Mr Hoare, 37, from Queensland, served in Iraq as a member of the Royal Australian Air Force before starting work as a private security contractor.

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