British guard in Iraq murder case has stress disorder

LONDON - A British security guard accused over the killings of two of his colleagues in Iraq was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and should not have been in Baghdad, his family said Friday.
In a newspaper interview, the parents of Danny Fitzsimons also said they feared he would become a "scapegoat" for highly-paid foreign security guards in Iraq, criticised by some for gung-ho behaviour which has seen civilians killed.

British guard in Iraq murder case has stress disorder
Since his arrest this week over the killings of a fellow Briton and an Australian, it has emerged that Fitzsimons, 29, had previous convictions for firearms offences in Britain and was awaiting sentencing on one of them.
His parents say others bore responsibility for what happened, in that it was known that he was suffering from a stress disorder.
"We did not even know he had gone out there. He patently should not have been allowed to go to Iraq. He is extremely poorly," his father and stepmother, Eric and Liz, told The Independent.
Fitzsimons, from Manchester in northwest England, appeared in a Baghdad court on Monday following the deaths of Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in an alcohol-fuelled shooting inside the Iraqi capital's secure "Green Zone" on Sunday.
In a newspaper interview this week, he insisted he was acting in self-defence. His employers, British-based security firm ArmorGroup, have vowed to support him.
But his parents said their son should not even have been employed there after he had been dismissed by another security firm, Aegis, while working in Iraq for "extreme negligence".
In addition, he was awaiting trial in Britain for assault, having already been found guilty of three other crimes including robbery, possession of ammunition and public order offences, according to The Independent.
His parents said he was diagnosed with a form of stress disorder when he was discharged from the army five years ago, having served tours in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.
"We do feel very, very sorry for these two men and their families. But Daniel is also a victim," said his father.
ArmorGroup would not comment on the investigation but told the newspaper: "Under our terms of employment, employees are obliged to provide a medical certificate prior to posting overseas that confirms they are fit to do so."
The role of private security guards came under intense scrutiny after a deadly shooting of civilians in Baghdad in 2007 involving employees of the US company Blackwater, since renamed Xe.
Fitzsimons' parents said they feared his trial could be influenced by antipathy among Iraqis for foreign guards.
"We are worried the trial will be rushed through and he will be made a scapegoat," they said. "We can't let that happen."
McGuigan's fiancee Nicola meanwhile released a statement through the British Foreign Office, saying the past week since his death "has been a living hell."
She called for his body to be returned to Britain, saying: "I feel that I cannot properly grieve until he is home ... The whole family is suffering, we need him home as soon as possible."

Saturday, August 15th 2009

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