Belfast Telegraph

Venue switch for Derry man accused of attending Syrian terrorist training camp

By Michael Donnelly

The trial of Londonderry man Eamon Bradley acquitted in February of possessing hand grenades in Syria has been switched from the Maiden City to Omagh in Co Tyrone.

At a hearing in Belfast's Laganside court trial Judge Brian Sherrard told lawyers that because court accommodation was "very tight" in Derry, they could not meet the proposed start date of the trial in either late August, or early September.

Judge Sherrard said that he had been supplied with three alternative venues for the proposed re-trial, Omagh, Coleraine, or even Belfast. 

Following a short discussion with senior prosecution and defence counsel, it was agreed to start the case, with the jury selection on August 28 next, in Omagh, with the trial itself beginning the following day.

Bradley, originally from Melmore Gardens in Creggan, is alleged to have been involved with a Syrian rebel group opposed to the government of President Bashar Assad and Islamic State.

The 28-year-old is to stand trial on three charges of attending a terrorist training camp and receiving instruction in the use of a grenade and an AK 47, a DShk and BKC firearms on differing dates between March and September 2014.

These were the charges the jury at his original trial in Derry failed to return any verdicts on following six hours deliberation during which they however acquitted him of three other charges of having a grenade with intent to endanger life between May and October 2014.

At his original trial, the first case of its type taken in Northern Ireland, the prosecution claimed that Bradley had been truthful when he told detectives about his alleged activities in Syria after being spirited into the country from Turkey in a makeshift raft.

They also claimed that Bradley, arrested after images of him apparently posing with guns were posted on social media, was not a fantasist, and according to police interview notes, he attended a training camp was armed as a junior infantryman or mujahid fighter.

However, the defence maintained that Bradley was not Derry's answer to Britain's First World War desert adventurer Lawrence of Arabia and was simply in Turkey on holiday.

An expert witness also testified that the AK 47 assault rifles Bradley was photographed with could have been deactivated.

It was also claimed one of the battles his client claimed to have been involved in, simply did not take place, and that there was there was no evidence to corroborate that he was even in Syria.

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