Wexford People

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Sentencing adjourned in funding terrorism case

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'.

Wexford People