Last updated: 2 January, 2013

Iraq and Britain discuss prisoner transfer deal

Baghdad and London are discussing a prisoner transfer deal that could see a British security guard convicted of murder in Iraq serve the remainder of his sentence in his home country, officials said.

Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari has been invited to London to finalise and sign a memorandum of understanding over the transfer of convicts between the two countries, and while the deal would not solely affect Danny Fitzsimons, he would be a key beneficiary.

Fitzsimons became the first Western contractor to be convicted of a crime by an Iraqi court when he was sentenced to life in prison, equivalent to 20 years in jail under Iraqi law, in February 2011 for killing a Briton and an Australian in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone in August 2009.

“The British are insisting to make an agreement with Iraq, to take Danny Fitzsimons,” justice ministry spokesman Haidar al-Saadi told AFP.

“We received an invitation from the (British) ambassador to go there and sign the agreement.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a British diplomat told AFP that the deal was “not targeted at any specific individual, but that’s not to say he (Fitzsimons) won’t benefit from it.”

Fitzsimons, a former British soldier who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, had insisted throughout his trial that he had acted in self-defence during an alcohol-fuelled brawl.

He told the court in west Baghdad that fellow Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare had burst into his room and pinned him down before pointing an M4 rifle at his face, prompting him to use his pistol to kill them. He also wounded an Iraqi guard before being detained.

Fitzsimons was the first Westerner to be tried in Iraq following the US-led invasion of 2003.

Foreign security contractors had not been subject to Iraqi law until the beginning of 2009, when a security agreement between the United States and Iraq lifted their immunity.