12 March 2006

New probe into Ihab assault allegation

Belfast Telegraph

Ciaran McGuigan
12 March 2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usTHE Police Ombudsman was last night examining claims that cops failed to act when loyalist hardman Ihab Shoukri battered a drug dealer-turned supergrass in his north Belfast home.

Shoukri - who walked free from court last week when a judge dismissed an application to revoke his bail in the wake of the police raid on the Alexandra Bar - was one of four men who attacked Dessie Truesdale in his north Belfast flat, the convicted drug dealer claims.

Truesdale claims that Shoukri's brother Andre, and two other leading UDA man were with Ihab when they "interrogated" him and ordered him to hand over thousands of pounds held in a credit union account.

Truesdale fled the country after the attack in March 2003, and still lives in hiding in England, fearing that he will be killed by the UDA if he returns to Ulster.

Before he fled, he told cops about the incident at his home, but claims the police failed to act on his statements.

The claims are made in a lengthy dossier sent to Nuala O'Loan's office last week.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman last night said: "We have received correspondence that sets out a number of allegations and are reviewing that correspondence."

Truesdale believes at least one of the gang that attacked him was a Special Branch agent, and wants the alleged agent unmasked.

He told Sunday Life: "I risked my life identifying these four men to police and gave statements that would hopefully have put them in jail, and yet nothing is done.

"You have to ask yourself why that is.

"The reason I suspect, and I want the Police Ombudsman to investigate, is that at least one of the four who came into my flat that night was working for Special Branch."

A police spokesman confirmed a report of the incident at the flat, but said no official complaint had been made at the time.

Truesdale added: "When I went to the police I felt that I was given the only option to flee the country. I want the Ombudsman to look into how the whole thing was handled."

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