Wednesday 16 January 2019

Radicalisation expert's report to be studied before sentencing of man who admitted 'Isis terror funding' in Ireland

File sketch of Hassan Bal in court Sketch: Alwyn Gillespie
File sketch of Hassan Bal in court Sketch: Alwyn Gillespie

Ralph Riegel

A REPORT by a German radicalisation expert will be studied by the prosecution before the sentencing of a young man who admitted providing funding from Ireland for the Islamic State terrorist organisation.

Hassan Bal (26) will be sentenced before Waterford Circuit Criminal Court on June 28 as Judge Eugene O'Kelly was assured a special report being sought by the defence will be shared with the prosecution.

Judge O'Kelly was told that an expert report on Mr Bal, sought by the defence and consented to by the State, is not yet finalised.

However, it will be completed shortly and will immediately be shared by the defence with the State.

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.

He did not speak during the hearing.

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 attempted funding of Islamic State.

Judge O’Kelly was told by Noel Whelan BL, for the State, that sentencing in the matter would take half a day.

"The defence will share their expert report when it is received," Mr Whelan said.

"That will be well before then (June 28)."

Judge O'Kelly was assured the report by a deradicalisation expert would be completed and submitted in good time for sentencing to be dealt with on June 28.

A European expert on radicalisation and de-radicalisation, Dr Daniel Koelher of the German Institute of Radicalisation and De-Radicalisation Studies (GIRDS), is currently conducting a special report on Mr Bal.

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 June 28. 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.

Mr Bal last January 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'.

Mr Bal 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 at 2 Geron Way, London NW2 6GJ, 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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