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*