Case of Irishman on Syria terror charges 'a show trial'
The prosecution of a man charged with terrorist offences in Syria was described as "an affront to justice" and "a show trial" at Derry's Magistrate's Court yesterday.
Eamon Bradley (27), from Benview Estate in Derry, faces three charges of possessing grenades, one of attending a weapons training camp, one of receiving training in the use of firearms, and one of receiving training in the use of a grenade in 2014.
Defence barrister Joe Brolly said Mr Bradley had joined the organisation Jaysh Al Islam to fight against Isil tyranny. He said western governments, including the British Government and five Arab states, were joint signatories to an accord to train and arm Jaysh Al Islam in their fight against Isil terrorism yet the same British Government had decided to prosecute his client in the first case of its kind in Northern Ireland.
"On the one hand, you cannot train them and arm them and then charge them with the other hand," he told District Judge Barney McElholm. "There are three main constituents to the defence. The first is that the defendant was acting to prevent war crimes in accordance with international law. The second is this is a case of self-defence and, thirdly and finally, the whole prosecution is perverse."
Mr Brolly said two former British soldiers had recently returned home from Syria after fighting alongside the group Jaysh Al Islam.
"Upon their return home, they were questioned for six hours and then released without charge, yet the same State has prosecuted my client in what we say is nothing but a show trial," Mr Brolly said.
The defence barrister quoted from a statement made by British Prime Minister David Cameron to the House of Commons in September 2014 stating there was "no legal barrier to taking action in Syria because it would be an act of collective self-defence".
Mr McElholm said it would seem to be the case that the people who fought against the Franco regime in Spain in the 1930s would now be committing criminal offences.
When Mr Brolly told the judge that the defendant's trial would probably take place before a non-jury Diplock court, Mr McElholm replied: "This is getting worse. Not a single person has been successfully prosecuted for the Omagh bomb and yet they are taking this man to a Diplock court. Sometimes I get very tired in here."
He returned the defendant for arraignment before the Crown Court on April 14.