Northern Ireland news

Lawyers for doctor accused of terrorism offences call for United Nations to intervene

Lawyers acting on behalf of Dr Issam Bassalat (64) have asked the Prison Ombudsman to investigate

LAWYERS for a doctor accused of terrorism offences are so concerned at his treatment in prison following a heart attack they have called for the United Nations to intervene, a court has heard.

Craigavon Magistrates Court also heard that lawyers acting on behalf of Dr Issam Bassalat (64) have asked the Prison Ombudsman to investigate amid allegations he was left in “severe pain for seven hours” before taken to hospital.

A PPS lawyer refuted those claims however and outlined to District Judge Michael Ranaghan how a nurse sat outside his cell, with a doctor at the end of the phone and that he received spinal surgery earlier this year faster than a person at liberty would have.

Dr Bassalat, from Telford Road in Edinburgh, is in custody at Maghaberry Prison facing a charge that in preparation of terrorist acts, on 19 July last year, he “attended and addressed a meeting of the Irish Republican Army at 17 Buninver Road, Omagh".

Arrested as part of Operation Arbacia into the alleged activities of the New IRA, Dr. Bassalat is one of 10 people in custody following an MI5 surveillance operation at two properties in Co Tyrone, the first at Barony Road, Sixmilecross and the other at the Buninver Road property.

It has been reported that MI5 double agent Denis McFadden arranged the rentals for meetings which the PSNI and PPS allege involved high ranking members of the New IRA where topics allegedly discussed included weapons procurement, recruitment and international links.

Last week, a bail application on behalf of Scottish Palestinian GP Dr Bassalat heard he had suffered a heart attack on October 9 and was taken to the RVH.

In court on Monday, defence solicitor Peter Corrigan argued that given the alleged treatment of Dr Bassalat when he was having a heart attack, along with him having spent 10 months in severe pain awaiting spinal surgery, after which he received “no post operative care” but was instead sent straight back to jail, “we have no confidence to relation to the care he is receiving in Maghaberry and are seeking the intervention of the UN".

Judge Ranaghan told the solicitor however “I need the up to date medical position to see whether this man can receive the proper treatment that he requires. I do not care about the UN."

As previous bail applications have been refused, the defence must prove there has been a change of circumstances before a judge can reconsider.

Mr Corrigan further argued that the medical position was such a change of circumstance but also that the serving of Preliminary Enquiry papers established a sufficient change.

He repeated claims of “police entrapment by MI5 agent Denis McFadden” who, according to Dr Bassalat, “badgered him to go to a meeting".

"There is a real risk of death for my client, that is set out unequivocally in the report," declared the solicitor.

Prosecuting counsel said given Mr Corrigan's claims of Dr Bassalat’s treatment while in custody, “it’s clear that he has had a heart attack but the key question are the cause if that heart attack and the prognosis going forward and if he can get the treatment he requires in prison".

She said the criticisms of the prison service “are not accepted”.

Adjourning the case to Monday, Judge Ranaghan told the lawyers “I don’t see how I can determine the medical issue without an up to date report from the prison” and suggested to Mr Corrigan that he should ask the prison service for such a report.

The solicitor said the defence team would likely instruct their own cardio expert in addition.

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