A night of vodka drinking early on Sunday morning in Baghdad's Green Zone ended in two private military contractors dead, one Iraqi national wounded, and one private military contractor in custody, allegedly for shooting the other three men after an argument broke out.
All three contractors worked for ArmorGroup, a British-based private military contractor, now owned by G4S, a global security solutions group.
The Times (of London) has a terse summary of what happened:
Danny Fitzsimons and several of his colleagues were downing vodka in the ArmorGroup compound near Saddam’s Republican Palace into the early hours of yesterday morning.
About 4am the men began to argue, a witness told The Times, and Mr Fitzsimons brandished a Beretta pistol. His colleagues tried to overpower him; two of them were shot dead.
Mr Fitzsimons then allegedly turned towards an Iraqi colleague, shot him in the leg and ran towards the compound’s main vehicle exit. The Iraqi, though severely wounded, followed him and shouted: “Help. The foreigner has killed other foreigners.”
Killed in the shooting were Fitzsimons' colleagues: Paul McGuigan, a British national, and Darren Hoare, an Australian national.
Fitzsimons is currently in Iraqi custody at a police detention facility. "The case could mark the first time a foreign security contractor faces trial in Iraq in a homicide case," reports The Washington Post. The Times reports that if convicted, Fitzsimons could receive the death penalty.
The past few days have not been kind to private military contractors in Iraq. Last week, new, stunning allegations involving murder, gun smuggling, and obstruction of justice were levied against Blackwater Worldwide, now Xe, and its founder, Erik Prince.
A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."
The two employees, whose identities remain confidential for fear of their lives, also allege Prince smuggled illegal weapons into Iraq on his private planes and destroyed evidence to obstruct a U.S. State Department investigation into the company's conduct during a shooting spree in Baghdad's Nisour Square in September of 2007. The shooting left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. The company maintains its employees were fired upon first.
♦ Photo of private military contractors by markk2/Flickr