Trial of British contractor in Iraq postponed

AP News
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Posted: Nov 15, 2009 6:01 AM

The trial of a British security contractor accused of shooting two colleagues to death has been postponed, an Iraqi official said Sunday.

Justice Ministry spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar said the trial of Danny Fitzsimons, which had been expected to begin Sunday, has been delayed because the venue is being moved to another building.

The Justice Ministry's main complex in downtown Baghdad was destroyed in a bombing last month, and Barykdar said the ministry is now moving its offices temporarily into a court building in western Baghdad where the trial was to be held.

Barykdar said all cases scheduled for the courthouse "have been postponed until further notice." He could not say when Fitzsimons' trial would begin.

Fitzsimons is accused of shooting two colleagues, a Briton and an Australian, during a fight in Baghdad's Green Zone this summer and then wounding an Iraqi while fleeing. All three men were working for the British security firm ArmorGroup Iraq.

Fitzsimons would be the first Westerner to face an Iraqi trial since a U.S.-Iraqi security pact that took effect Jan. 1 lifted immunity for foreign contractors.

Iraqi authorities had pressed for the lifting of immunity after a September 2007 shooting in Baghdad involving another security firm, North Carolina-based Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe. That shooting left as many as 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

Fitzsimons' family and supporters have said that they are worried about whether he can receive a fair trial in Iraq and have called for him to be returned to Britain.