08 March 2006



Loyalist's bail not being revoked

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Ihab Shoukri is charged with UDA/UFF membership

Belfast Crown Court has refused a police application to revoke prominent loyalist Ihab Shoukri's bail.

Mr Shoukri, 32, from Alliance Road, Belfast, denied membership of the UFF and UDA at his last court appearance.

He was arrested in a raid on the Alexandra Bar in north Belfast last week and later released.

Judge Tom Burgess said the accused was downstairs having a drink while an alleged UDA meeting was going on in an upstairs lounge.

The police had claimed he breached his bail conditions, banning him from associating with paramilitaries, by being in a bar where they were meeting.

However, Judge Burgess, told the court there was no evidence in front of him which suggested that Mr Shoukri had broken any of his bail conditions.

He said the accused had not broken conditions which bar him from certain parts of Belfast or his curfew.

Mr Burgess was critical of the Crown over the delay in Mr Shoukri's trial for UDA membership.

He said three times a date had been set for the trial, only for the prosecution to cancel it each time.

The accused has now been on bail for two years and nine months and the judge said that on Monday he would hear arguments for and against fixing a date for the trial.

A total of 17 people were arrested in the raid on the Alexandra bar. Eleven of them were charged by police and have appeared in court.

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