Posts Tagged trial

Legal News: Fitzsimons Goes On Trial In Iraq Charged With Killing Two Colleagues

     Who knows how this case will go?  If any legal folks out there have an idea on how this might go down, I would be interested in hearing your opinion on this. –Matt

Briton goes on trial in Iraq charged with killing two colleagues

Wednesday 29 December 2010

A British security contractor charged with killing two of his colleagues after an argument in Baghdad’s Green Zone has gone on trial in Iraq.

Danny Fitzsimons, 29, from Middleton, Manchester, is charged with shooting dead another Briton, Paul McGuigan, and an Australian, Darren Hoare, in August 2009 and wounding an Iraqi guard while fleeing.

All were working for the British security firm ArmorGroup Iraq.

He is the first westerner to go on trial in an Iraqi court since a 2009 US-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity for foreigners, and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Fitzsimons, a former soldier who served in the Parachute regiment, was in court as the guard, Arkan Mahdi Saleh, told a three-judge panel he saw Fitzsimons with a pistol before he was shot.

“I was standing at a guard post when I heard some movements behind me,” said Saleh, 33. “When I turned back to check, I saw Fitzsimons with a pistol in his hand and aiming at me.”

Fitzsimons stood behind a wooden fence with two security guards closely watching him.

At one point he asked a judge for permission to speak, but the request was refused. “I’ve got a lot to say,” Fitzsimons told his lawyer after the court adjourned.

Written testimonies from three foreign security contractors said they saw the three men drinking and quarrelling inside one of the caravans where they lived.

The case was adjourned until 23 January.

Story here.

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Maritime Security: US Navy Using ‘Q-Ships’ And Somalis Guilty Of Piracy In Historic Trial

     Three men jumped from a command boat into an open skiff and raced toward the target. They opened fire with AK-47 rifles as they neared the starboard side, hitting a mast and several life lines.

     No one was hurt, and the April 1 incident normally might have drawn little notice. Somali sea bandits have attacked several hundred freighters, tankers and other merchant ships this year. They have successfully hijacked 40 vessels and their crews and held them for ransom.

     But the target this time was the U.S. guided missile frigate Nicholas, disguised to resemble a cargo ship. Navy gunners fired back, and by dawn, commandos had captured five Somalis.

     The last known U.S. trial of a pirate captured overseas was in 1819. During the Civil War, crew members from the Savannah, a Confederate raider, were charged with piracy and tried in New York. But the jury deadlocked, and the rebels later were deemed prisoners of war. 

    There is actually two historic events here.  The first would be the trial itself, but the second would be the first use of ‘Q-ships‘ by the US Navy since World War 2. This last part is incredibly under reported, and hopefully some clarification can be made by the US Navy about this if it is true.

    Or maybe there was a mistake by the reporter below, or this is what the defense claimed in the trial?  Who knows, but it certainly is interesting if true.  It almost makes me wonder if the USS Ashland was set up to be a decoy as well, because Somali pirates fired on that vessel thinking it was a merchant vessel. –Matt

US jury finds Somalis guilty of piracy

November 25, 2010

WASHINGTON — Five Somalis were found guilty of piracy for attacking a US vessel in the Indian Ocean, the first US convictions on such charges in nearly two centuries, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

A jury in the port city of Norfolk, Virginia found the men guilty of the April attack on the navy frigate USS Nicholas — which they mistook for a merchant vessel — from a small skiff in April.

The ruling marks “what is believed to be the first piracy trial conviction in the United States since 1820,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

According to trial testimony, the men sailed from Somalia searching for a merchant ship to raid. “They used a larger ship full of supplies, along with two smaller vessels loaded with assault weapons and a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) that served as attack boats,” the statement read.

On April 1, three of the suspects boarded one of the smaller vessels “and set out to pirate what they believed to be a merchant ship.”

The men opened fire on a ship which turned out to be the Norfolk-based USS Nicholas.

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Call To Action: Save Australian Security Contractor Robert Langdon From Execution In Afghanistan!

   I like to do what I can to support my fellow contractors out there, and Robert Langdon is one guy that needs our support.  He is a former Four Horsemen International contractor and he was sentenced to death by hanging in Afghanistan for an alleged murder. I will not pass judgement on what happened, because I was not there.  The issue at hand though is that Afghanistan wants to execute him, but Australia does not believe in the death penalty and they do not want their citizen to be executed.  There is also the issue on wether Rob received a fair trial or not. (please read below)

   The big one here is that the Australian government promised that they would do all they can to pressure the Afghan government to hand over Robert.  The point of this call to action is that the Australian government has not put any pressure on the Afghan government (according to accounts below) and that they are throwing their citizen under the bus for political reasons.  So if you want the Australian government to follow through on their promise, and you do not want Robert Langdon to be executed in Afghanistan, then write the PM of Australia Kevin Rudd and let him know what you think.  Let’s get the word out about this, and thanks to the IPSSC and Miguel for working on this issue, as well as the Bill Shaw case.  –Matt

Edit: June 13, 2010 -I just got this letter from Elena Fon, and here is the latest that everyone can do.  There is a petition that everyone can sign.

Hi Matt,

I am the Elena Fon who wrote the guest article on Rob Langdon in this

month’s issue of Overwatch Report. You also very kindly wrote a piece about

him when Miguel sent you some info. Would you please kindly post the online

petition for Rob that began yesterday? Find it at

Also there are some great comments on the petition. I need people to write

that stuff to the PM. I want him to be overwhelmed with emails/letters on

Rob’s behalf.

Write to: The Hon Kevin Rudd MP Prime Minister, Parliament House,Canberra, ACT, Australia 2600.

Email: http//

With a copy to the Leader of the Opposition Rt Hon Tony Abbott MP.


It’s easy to sign a petition, harder to write but ask people to take the

time, remembering that Robert Langdon’s life is at stake here. Just write

whatever is in their hearts. And persevere until Rob is safe home. I welcome

any contact, suggestions, especially if anybody out in Afghanistan has

visited Rob in prison recently or has news of him to pass on.  Sorry I don’t

do Twitter etc. So please publish my email address. Thank you so much,




Robert Langdon

Robert Langdon in Afghan custody.



I understand that IPSSC is raising awareness and support for British security contractor, Bill Shaw, who has been sentenced to 2 years jail in Afghanistan on trumped up fraud charges. Perhaps you would be willing to lobby support for Rob Langdon, an Australian security contractor, formerly employed by Four Horsemen International and sentenced to death by hanging in  Afghanistan on January 27 2010. Rob did not have a fair trial and his case has wide-ranging political implications as it would seem the Afghan authorities are testing the water with both Rob and Bill to see just how far they can go. Rob’s case appears to be very little known about, not only overseas but also in Australia and I would be very grateful for your help in publicising his case.(contact IPSSC for details of case)

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Legal News: Navy SEAL Found Not Guilty Of Assaulting A Suspected Terrorist

   This is awesome news and I wanted to get this out there.  Bravo to Matthew McCabe and his team mates for fighting the good legal fight, and winning! –Matt


Navy SEAL Found Not Guilty of Assaulting a Suspected Terrorist

Military jury found a Navy SEAL not guilty on charges of punching a suspected Iraqi terrorist.

May 06, 2010

Matthew McCabe

A Virginia military jury found a Navy SEAL not guilty Thursday on all charges he punched an Iraqi suspected in the 2004 killings of four U.S. contractors in Fallujah.

“I’m really happy right now,” Matthew McCabe, the Navy SEAL, told Fox News shortly after hearing the outcome of the court martial. “It’s an amazing feeling. I’m on cloud nine right now.”

McCabe, a special operations petty officer second class, called the proceedings “troubling at times,” adding “having your career on the line is not an easy thing to handle.

McCabe was the third and final Navy SEAL to be prosecuted in the case. He had faced charges of assault, making a false official statement and dereliction of performance of duty for willfully failing to safeguard a detainee. McCabe was accused of punching last year is Ahmed Hashim Abed, the suspected mastermind of the grisly killings six years ago.

After the court martial, the 24-year-old from Perrysburg, Ohio, thanked the public for its continued support.

“It’s been great everything they’ve done,” he told Fox News. “But, don’t worry about it anymore. We are putting this all behind us. It’s done and over with. I’m going to try not to think about this ever again.”

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Legal News: The Real Blackwater Scandal–Prosecutorial Abuse

The judge calls it “the government’s reckless violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights.” 


   Finally, some push back.  This thing was highly politicized from the beginning, and the DoJ was right in there, thinking of anything they could possible do to get these guys.

   So we take a giant crap on the Marines at Haditha, or the Navy SEALs who gave a terrorist a fat lip, or the Blackwater guards who were fighting for their lives in a firefight in Iraq that resulted in civilian casualties, and yet we release hundreds of detainees from Gitmo because of a lack of evidence during their capture on the battlefield? Pfffft. The enemy is laughing at us. –Matt

Edit: 01/07/2010 – And the Washington Post weighs in with a similar theme. Judge Made The Right Call In Blackwater Case 


The Real Blackwater Scandal

JANUARY 3, 2010

Another example of prosecutorial abuse in a political case.

No, not as the left would have it, that Blackwater still exists. The scandal is that the Justice Department’s case against five former security guards for the military contractor unraveled late last week in what appears to be another instance of gross prosecutorial misconduct, as abusive Justice lawyers went after an unsympathetic political target.

The indictments—which were thrown out by D.C. District Judge Ricardo Urbina in a derisive and detailed 90-page opinion—stemmed from a 2007 firefight in Baghdad’s Nisour Square that left 14 Iraqis dead and others wounded. The government contends that five Blackwater guards, who were providing tactical support for the State Department after an IED exploded in the vicinity of a meeting with Iraqi officials, went on an unprovoked killing spree against unarmed civilians. The guards maintain that they came under attack by insurgents and were responding in self-defense to a mortal threat.

Judge Urbina dismissed the charges because prosecutors misused sworn statements the guards were compelled to make to investigators after the shooting, under the threat of job loss. This was routine practice under military contracting rules, though the statements could not be used in criminal prosecutions. Promptly after the Nisour incident these statements were also leaked to the media, which ran with the narrative of modern-day Hessians gone berserk.

“In their zeal to bring charges against the defendants in this case,” Judge Urbina ruled, prosecutors had violated Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination by using these compelled statements to formulate their case and ultimately obtain indictments against the guards. The judge calls it “the government’s reckless violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights.”

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Industry Talk: Blackwater Employees Receive ‘Target Letters’ from the Justice Department

     It’s interesting the various reactions of contractors on all the other forums out there. Seeing how a lot of contractors are former cops, you get a unique perspective on all of this.

     The things I hear is that the Target Letter is used as a scare tactic to get these guys to talk.

     That most feel like these guys are getting a raw deal and that Iraq is still a war zone and Murphy’s Law still applies–go figure?

     The other thing I am hearing is that this might backfire on DOJ. Meaning, you get these guys on the witness stand, and that means you have to put DOS on the witness stand and any other clients (Do you think Condi Rice wants to be on the stand?) 

     And God forbid if this case gets thrown out because they can’t find shell casings, and they cannot find enough witnesses or evidence to support the case. That they did not secure the crime scene (because it is an active war zone), nor did they properly question witnesses (who might be insurgents), nor can they trust these witnesses because of possible connections with the insurgents. And you know the Blackwater employee lawyers are going to talk about everything, meaning how involved DOS is with the process and how much of an asset Blackwater has been. 

     It could go either way for them, and we’ll see how far this goes. I feel for the guys that are having to go through this, and this is certainly a cautionary tale for the rest of us working in this industry.

     My assessment is that I wasn’t there, nor am I going to judge. I do know that stuff happens quick in those situations, that all of these guys that were working for Blackwater and DOS were trained to a certain standard, that they are all prior military, and they had to have clearances in order to play. These are not KBR bus drivers that Blackwater picked up in Green Zone to fill a slot(which I have seen done before with some of the other companies–unbelievable).

     I give these guys more credit than that, and I will not jump on the bandwagon of throwing these brothers under the bus. Just like I didn’t jump on the Murtha Bandwagon of throwing the Marines under the bus about the Haditha deal. – Head Jundi




The VBIED blast that initiated the actions at Nisoor Square. (up top)The set up of vehicles and overhead view of the square.



Justice Dept. Moves Toward Charges Against Contractors in Iraq Shooting


By Del Quentin Wilber and Karen DeYoung

Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, August 17, 2008; A01


Federal prosecutors have sent target letters to six Blackwater Worldwide security guards involved in a September shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, indicating a high likelihood the Justice Department will seek to indict at least some of the men, according to three sources close to the case.


The guards, all former U.S. military personnel, were working as security contractors for the State Department, assigned to protect U.S. diplomats and other non-military officials in Iraq. The shooting occurred when their convoy arrived at a busy square in central Baghdad and guards tried to stop traffic.


An Iraqi government investigation concluded that the security contractors fired without provocation. Blackwater has said its personnel acted in self-defense.


The sources said that any charges against the guards would likely be brought under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which has previously been used to prosecute only the cases referred to the Justice Department by the Defense Department for crimes committed by military personnel and contractors overseas. Legal experts have questioned whether contractors working for the State Department can be prosecuted under its provisions.

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