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MI5 sting accused suffers heart attack

Dr Issam Bassalat has suffered a heart attack in Maghaberry Prison
Connla Young

A Palestinian doctor facing charges arising from an MI5-led sting has suffered a heart attack behind bars.

Dr Issam Bassalat (66) is one of ten people charged with a series of offences arising out of the surveillance operation connected to Operation Arbacia.

The Palestinian doctor, who is originally from Edinburgh, is charged with 'preparation of terrorist acts' while nine others face charges including directing terrorism.

All the accused deny the allegations.

Dungannon Magistrates Court heard earlier this week that Dr Bassalat had suffered a heart attack at Maghaberry Prison last weekend.

He was later taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital where his solicitor Peter Corrigan, of Phoenix Law, said a stent was inserted.

The solicitor last night said his client was left in pain for seven hours on Saturday before being transferred to the Belfast hospital for emergency surgery at around midnight.

Mr Corrigan added that his client recognised the symptoms of the heart attack and called out for help.

The lawyer said Dr Bassalat has now been told that "part of his heart muscles are dead."

The Palestinian has since been returned to prison.

Dr Bassalat is said to have a history of cardiac trouble and previously suffered a heart attack in 2017.

The most recent health emergency arose just hours after his lawyers made an application for bail at the Dungannon Magistrates Court last Friday.

At that hearing it emerged that Mr Bassalat's ex-wife has applied to a Scottish court to bring his four children to live in France.

During that hearing Mr Corrigan referred to prosecution objections "that he (Dr Bassalat) would abscond".

"In fact he is the one that is trying to prevent his family from going to France," Mr Corrigan told the court.

A spokesman for the Prison Service said: "NI Prison Service does not comment on individual prisoners."

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