Sen­tenc­ing ad­journed in fund­ing ter­ror­ism case

Wexford People - - NEWS -

A re­port by a Ger­man de-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion ex­pert will be cen­tral to the sen­tenc­ing of a man who ad­mit­ted pro­vid­ing fund­ing from Ire­land for the Is­lamic State ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Has­san Bal (26) who pre­vi­ously lived in Wex­ford had his sen­tenc­ing be­fore Water­ford Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court ad­journed as Judge Eu­gene O’Kelly was told that an ex­pert re­port on Mr Bal, sought by the de­fence and con­sented to by the State, is not yet ready.

Mr Bal, who had an ad­dress at O’Con­nell Street in Water­ford city, ap­peared in court wear­ing a dark suit, white shirt and dark tie.

Mr Bal has been in cus­tody since he was ar­rested by Gar­daí at his rented Water­ford home in April 2017. He pleaded guilty last Jan­uary to two counts re­lat­ing to the fund­ing and at­tempt­ing fund­ing of Is­lamic State.

Judge O’Kelly was told by Noel Whe­lan BL, for the State, that they now were seek­ing an ad­journ­ment in the mat­ter un­til May 30. Mr Whe­lan said the State would then be ask­ing the court on May 30 to set a date for sen­tenc­ing in June.

The court heard that sen­tenc­ing in the mat­ter would be ready to take place dur­ing the cur­rent ses­sions.

Judge O’Kelly was in­formed a Euro­pean ex­pert on rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion, Dr Daniel Koel­her of the Ger­man In­sti­tute of Rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion and De-Rad­i­cal­i­saion Stud­ies (GIRDS), is cur­rently con­duct­ing a spe­cial re­port on Mr Bal.

While that re­port is not yet fi­nalised, the court was as­sured it will be ready for the May 30 hear­ing.

Judge O’Kelly was told the re­port will be avail­able for both the de­fence and pros­e­cu­tion.

Pre­vi­ously, de­fence coun­sel Gi­ol­laiosa O’Lideadha SC asked that Mr Koel­her be given ac­cess to all in­ter­views with Mr Bal and any as­so­ci­ated doc­u­ments in­clud­ing the Book of Ev­i­dence.

This will al­low him pro­vide a re­port on why Mr Bal be­came ‘as­so­ci­ated with such ac­tiv­i­ties’.

The ex­pert will also of­fer his opin­ion on whether Mr Bal has been de-rad­i­calised and whether he does not ap­pear to sup­port ‘ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions like Is­lamic State’ any more.

‘He has made it clear he would be pro­vid­ing an ex­pert opin­ion to the court and is very well aware of his obli­ga­tions as an ex­pert wit­ness to be fair and clear and to re­port on the ba­sis of his pri­mary obli­ga­tions to the court,’ Mr O’Gi­ol­laiosa said.

Mr Ó Lideadha stressed that his client was ‘very well aware’ that the court would have ac­cess to Mr Koel­her’s re­port ir­re­spec­tive of what the con­clu­sions are.

Conor Roberts BL, for Mr Bal, con­firmed to­day the ad­journ­ment for a sen­tenc­ing date in June was by con­sent.

Judge O’Kelly re­manded Mr Bal in on­go­ing cus­tody un­til May 30.

The ac­cused was born in Eng­land. How­ever, he moved to Ire­land with his fam­ily when he was 12 years old.

He was ini­tially based in Wex­ford be­fore he re­lo­cated to Water­ford in 2007. Mr Bal holds an Ir­ish pass­port.

At the time of his de­ten­tion last year, he was train­ing to work as an electrician.

Mr Bal is mar­ried and a pre­vi­ous court hear­ing was told his wife was ex­pect­ing their first child.

His wife was sim­i­larly born in Eng­land. Last Jan­uary Mr Bal ad­mit­ted un­law­fully pro­vid­ing funds, to the amount of €400, us­ing an An Post/West­ern Union money trans­fer, in Water­ford on Oc­to­ber 2 2015 to a Stevo Mak­si­movic in the city of Brako in Bos­nia-Herze­gov­ina, know­ing or in­tend­ing that the funds would be used in whole or in part for the ben­e­fit or pur­poses of the ter­ror­ist group known as Is­lamic State or ‘Daesh’.

He also pleaded guilty to un­law­fully and wil­fully at­tempt­ing to col­lect or re­ceive cash from a per­son known to him as Omar Abu Aziz, by means of tele­phonic com­mu­ni­ca­tions and an in­ter­me­di­ary at an ad­dress in Lon­don, know­ing or sus­pect­ing that the funds would be used in whole or in part for the ben­e­fit or pur­poses of Is­lamic State.

The sec­ond of­fence in­volves a date of Oc­to­ber 23 2015.

The two charges were brought con­trary to sec­tion 13 (3)(a) and sec­tion 13 (4) of the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice (Ter­ror­ist Of­fences) Act of 2005. Mr Ó Lideadha said it was a ‘very un­usual case’.

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