16 January 2006

UDA 'may oust' Shoukri over lifestyle


(Irish News)

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Pressure last night (Wednesday) mounted on the UDA's ruling 'inner council' to oust its north Belfast 'brigadier' Andre Shoukri after revelations that he spent £800,000 in a two-year period, despite having no visible income.

Senior loyalist sources say they expect that the inner council to meet within days to discuss the revelation that a police investigation into Shoukri has uncovered evidence that the 28-year-old gambled away hundreds of thousands of pounds at four bookmakers in north Belfast.

The police investigation is also understood to have evidence that Shoukri, pictured, falsely obtained a £120,000 mortgage for a house in the Ballysillan area of north Belfast and spent tens of thousands of pounds on high performance sports cars and numerous foreign holidays between 2003 and 2005.

A senior UDA source said that the inner council had not yet met to discuss Shoukri's activities but claimed it was "highly likely" that the organisation's leadership would be asked to investigate his expensive lifestyle.

"A lot of people are asking how he was allowed to get away with this and what the UDA are going to do about it," the source said.

"No complaint has been made to the inner council but I would be astonished if it is not asked to launch some kind of investigation.

"The UDA said it would never allow another Jim Gray and if the case is proved against Shoukri the organisation will be forced to move against him."

Meanwhile, the UDA was last night blamed for a bomb alert at a north Belfast bar at the centre of extortion charges against Shoukri and senior loyalist William 'Bonzer' Borland.

The alert was raised at the Old Strathmore Inn, formerly Bonaparte's Bar, on the upper Cavehill Road in north Belfast shortly after 9am yesterday.

British army bomb disposal experts were called in to deal with a pipe bomb, which had been left in an entry at the side of the bar.

In November Shoukri and Borland were charged with blackmail, money laundering and attempting to extort money from a former Bonaparte's employee.

Borland is separately charged with intimidating the employee's partner and demanding that he hand over the keys, books and chequebooks to the bar and possession of a firearm, or imitation firearm, with intent.

January 13, 2006

This article appeared first in the January 12, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

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