More than 200 people call for release of GP jailed for tax offences

Bassam Naser of Sutton gets 16 months for failing to pay almost €100,000 in income tax

A file image of Dr Bassam Naser (51), of Howth Road, Sutton, who pleaded guilty to two charges of delivering an incorrect return. File photograph: Alan Betson

A file image of Dr Bassam Naser (51), of Howth Road, Sutton, who pleaded guilty to two charges of delivering an incorrect return. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

More than 200 people have signed a petition calling for the overturning of a court decision to jail a GP for 16 months for failing to pay almost €100,000 in income tax.

Bassam Naser (51), of Howth Road, Sutton, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday to two charges of delivering an incorrect return in connection with his income tax affairs for the years 2006 and 2007.

The court heard Mr Naser had a hidden bank account into which he lodged 1,686 cheques received from patients attending his clinic. He was due to pay almost €100,000 in income tax and now owes a further €200,000 in penalties and fees. He had a €100,000 cheque in court to pay the overdue tax.

Dozens of people expressed shock at the severity of the sentence on national radio on Thursday. Furthermore, several bouquets of flowers were left outside Mr Naser’s surgery in Sutton.

Petition

A member of the public initiated a petition calling for Mr Naser’s release.

“Dr Sam has been a pillar of his community and a voice for Palestinians here in Ireland,” it said, adding the GP should be released “back into the community where is he needed”.

The petition had 206 signatories by Thursday evening.

Ambassador Ahmed Abdelrazek of the Mission of Palestine to Dublin expressed shock at the sentence and said Dr Naser had done hard work in the community, including on behalf of Syrian refugees.

“He serves all human causes, Palestinians and others,” he told RTÉ’s Liveline. “He is very devoted to his community. I hear many people praise him for what he does as a GP in the community.

“If people don’t have money, he doesn’t take fees, so it was shocking to hear of his sentence. We don’t understand how the tax inspectors didn’t go for a settlement with him. I think he was ready to settle it.

“He was ready to pay the penalties also. He recognised he made a mistake. I really don’t understand. Many people have contacted us to say they don’t understand this very heavy sentence.”