Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Amnesty International issues statement on Danny Fitzsimons

AN ex-paratrooper accused of murdering two workmates in Baghdad could face the noose within WEEKS.
Danny Fitzsimons, 30, confessed at his first court appearance to shooting former Royal Marine Paul McGuigan and Aussie Darren Hoare, both 37.
Investigators claimed yesterday they have all the evidence they need - and his case could be fast-tracked.

Neil Syson (The Sun) reports the above on Danny Fitzsimons who served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo as well as Iraq. He is accused of being the shooter in a Sunday Green Zone incident in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. Eric and Liz Fitzsimons spoke to the BBC (link has video) and noted that they are not asking for Danny to 'walk.' They stated that he has to take responsibility. But they want a fair trial and do not believe that is possible in Iraq. Amnesty International issued the following yesterday:

Responding to reports that a British employee of a security company working in Iraq may face a death sentence, Amnesty International UK Media Director Mike Blakemore said:
'It's right that private military and security company employees like Danny Fitzsimons are not placed above the law when they're working in places like Iraq and it's right that the Iraqi authorities are set to investigate this very serious incident.
'However, as with all capital cases, Amnesty would strenuously oppose the application of the death penalty if applied to Mr Fitzsimons in this case.
'Iraq has a dreadful record of unfair capital trials and at least 34 people were hanged in the country last year alone.
'The important thing now is that if Danny Fitzsimons is put on trial he is allowed a fair trial process without resort to the cruelty of a death sentence.'
Last year 34 criminals were hanged in Iraq. Private security guard Fitzsimons, employed by UK firm ArmorGroup, would be the first Westerner on trial since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Scotland's The Herald offers this background on the two deceased contractors:

Mr McGuigan was a former Royal Marine who went to work for ArmorGroup in 2003, according to a company statement. It said he was working as a team leader in charge of a personal security detail. He was married and his wife was expecting a child.
Hoare, from Queensland, Australia, worked for the security company for more than four years. He had served in the Australian air force.

Alsumaria notes: "Pentagon has shown concern over ethnic tensions among Arabs and Kurds despite talks between both parties' leaders. A disagreement over land and oil has come dangerously close to violence, a senior US military official said." That comes as Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports Turkey is offering drought striken Iraq water . . . provided they crack down more on the PKK (Kurdish rebels):

If water is Iraq's biggest bilateral issue, the separatist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) is Turkey's. Mr. Zebari told reporters Iraq was committed to clamping down on attacks by Kurdish rebels from Iraq. He announced plans for a joint cooperation center in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Arbil in which Turkey, Iraq, and the US would share intelligence aimed at stopping PKK attacks on Turkey from Iraqi soil.
Northern Iraq has been governed since 1991 by Iraqi Kurds as a semiautonomous territory but there is little affinity with the PKK, which has attacked soldiers and civilians, particularly as relations improve with Ankara.
Turkey, one of Iraq's biggest trading partners, has been playing a key role in Iraq's economic reconstruction. Mr. Zebari said annual trade between the two has reached $7 billion -- a figure they aimed to increase to $20 billion by the end of next year. Turkish minister of state for industry, Zafer Caglayan, said bilateral trade has ballooned by 58 percent from 2008.

Tuesday the DoD issued a statement (noted in yesterday's snapshot and link is working to DoD statement):

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Spc. Richard A. Walters Jr., 41, of Cleveland, Ohio, died Aug. 10 in Ali Al Salem, Kuwait, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 14th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Benning, Ga.
The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.
For more information the media may contact the Fort Benning public affairs office at (706) 545-3512; after hours, call (706) 545-2218.

Lily Gordon (Cleveland Ledger-Enquirer) reports he was a "Cleveland native was assigned to the 14th Combat Support Hospital, a unit consisting of approximately 300 soldiers that deployed to the Middle East in early July. The unit is to complete a yearlong rotation in Iraq. Walters joined the 14th Combat Support Hospital in May 2009, said Fort Benning spokeswoman Elsie Jackson. He had a history of prior service, possibly in the Navy, she said."

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oh boy it never ends