“a snapshot in time which is now historic”?

The BBC report that the case against Ihab Shoukri has been dropped due to lack of evidence and the prosecution is not appealing the decision. He has been on bail for almost 3 years and had faced four charges of membership of both the UFF and UDA between February and July 2003 and of professing to be a member of both outlawed organisations between 14 May and 28 May 2003. But the comments of Judge Thomas Burgess, who was previously mentioned on Slugger in March in another case involving Ihab Shoukri, are worth considering further [see below].
The BBC report notes what seem, to me, bizarre comments from Judge Thomas Burgess – given the IMC report in February:

3.30 The picture on the UDA over the three months under review is essentially the same. It has been engaged in continuing paramilitary activity. Members from East Belfast were in our view responsible for the murder on 4 October of their fellow member Jim Gray who was on bail following his arrest. Members also undertook a sectarian attack in early September. The UDA and its members have continued to undertake targeting, shootings and assaults, some unreported; the UDA was responsible for most of the loyalist incidents which it is possible to attribute with certainty to a particular organisation, although these attributions are a minority of the total. There have been other violent incidents since the period under review here. We believe that the organisation continues to aspire to acquire weapons although we have no evidence over this period that it has successfully done so. We are aware of no change in the broad pattern of UDA involvement in organised crime. Members of the organisation were engaged in drug dealing, extortion, the production and sale of counterfeit goods, money laundering and robbery. Offences of this kind are committed or planned across the whole organisation. Four senior members of the North Belfast Brigade were arrested in November for a number of these offences as well as for others involving threats to kill and the possession of firearms.

Today Judge Thomas Burgess said this –

Judge Burgess said that it had be to remembered the charges were “a snapshot in time which is now historic.”

He added: “Any case can only be decided on the evidence before the court and evidence which is admissible.”

Judge Burgess also said that when deciding on what evidence to put forward, the prosecution “may have to consider wider issues than those before the court.”[added emphasis]

Presumably he means political issues? *shakes head*

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  • Their only crime was loyalty. KAT and all that.

  • Pete Baker

    There are a number of issues arising from the dropping of the charges, and the comments by the Judge.

    It would be more productive to concentrate, and possibly comment, on those.

  • Crataegus

    Judge Burgess has always struck me as pedantic (no bad thing for a Judge), but fundamentally fair minded.

    “may have to consider wider issues than those before the court.”

    I didn’t comment on this in the previous thread but this statement really bothers me. This judge has a strong mind so what exactly were the influences being brought to bear? It can mean a number of things, firstly that we are dealing with an informer but if that is the case are informers above the law? Or it could mean there are political considerations and so much for the separation between justice and state. If political who was seeking to influence the Judge and how and why?

    It feels wrong.

  • Pete Baker


    Technically, this is the previous thread…

  • Crataegus

    Sorry wrong thread as this one is out of date.

  • Pete Baker

    Just to add, Crat, that the line:

    Judge Burgess said that it had be to remembered the charges were “a snapshot in time which is now historic.”

    is, I believe, an important point to note too.

  • harpo

    ‘Just to add, Crat, that the line:

    Judge Burgess said that it had be to remembered the charges were “a snapshot in time which is now historic.”
    is, I believe, an important point to note too.’


    It’s all a bit like the situation over Sean Kelly, isn’t it? One week the SOS defends the decision to lift him, presumably on the basis that he was a danger to society or involved in terrorism again, then when the Provos play ball, all that is forgotten – a snapshot in time indeed – and Kelly is released. Whatever he had been up to was dismissed as the past and everyone was told to accept that there was a new situation.

    In that case the Provos were rewarded for their compliance on one issue by having one of their boyos left loose when he should technically have been locked up for the good of society. This is probably the same thing.

  • Pete Baker

    I believe I may have mentioned that particular problem previously, harpo.

    But I’m not reading this as exactly the same kind of situation.. I doubt that the Shoukri’s aren’t playing along with the [o’ mice an’ men] plan

  • Pete Baker


    I meant “I doubt that the Shoukri’s are playing along..”

  • harpo


    I salute your analysis of the Kelly scenario. It is exactly the same as my own. The rules are ignored when someone needs to be rewarded.

    But in this case if the Shoukri boys aren’t with the official UDA program, they are out, and must face the normal rules. If they have been expelled and some person in authority asks the UDA if they would have any problem with charging a Shoukri then the UDA are going to say (at this precise time) go ahead.

  • Pete Baker


    Where I may diverge from your analysis is in the nature of the relationship between the players.

    Kelly was always part of the main grouping.

    The Shoukri’s never really were.

    That, IMHO, affects how the moves by the NIO and those within their influence, should be viewed.