Murder trial told of row before shots

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JUDGES have once again adjourned the trail of a British security guard accused of murdering former Peebles Royal Marine Paul McGuigan in Iraq, writes Bob Burgess.

Danny Fitzsimons, from Whitworth, is also accused of killing former Australian Air Force serviceman Darren Hoare.

The two 37-year-olds were shot dead during a row in Baghdad’s Green Zone in August 2009.

Fitzsimons, 30, faces execution if convicted by a panel of three judges.

The ex-paratrooper denies the killings, which happened when all three men were employed by private security firm Armor Group.

After a series of delays, witnesses have now begun giving evidence. But after hearing one guard and reading the evidence of others the judges have adjourned the trial until January 23.

It is claimed that Fitzsimons also shot and wounded an Iraqi employed by the same firm as he fled the incident.

The guard, Arkan Mahdi Saleh, 33, told the judges he saw Fitzsimons with a pistol before he was shot.

He said: “I was standing at a guard post when I heard some movements behind me. When I turned back to check, I saw Fitzsimons with a pistol in his hand and aiming at me.”

He pointed a finger at Fitzsimons as the man who had pulled the trigger.

Three other foreign security contractors gave written evidence, claiming they saw the three men drinking and arguing in one of the caravans where they were living.

Fitzsimons is held behind a wooden fence in the Baghdad courtroom.

When he asked the judges for permission to speak, the request was rejected.

After the trial had been adjourned, he told his lawyer: “I’ve got a lot to say.”

It is expected he will claim self-defence during a drunken quarrel and say that he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after serving with the army in Bosnia and the Middle East.

The body of Mr McGuigan was returned to Peebles for burial.