Not such an historic snapshot in time after all?

Three weeks ago, when charges of membership of paramilitary groups, the UDA and the UFF, were dropped against Ihab Shoukri, Judge Thomas Burgess commented that when deciding what evidence to put forward, the prosecution “may have to consider wider issues than those before the court.” Since then there has been an attempt to expel the Shoukri brothers from the UDA, which prompted this response, and now, according to the BBC, Ihab Shoukri is to appear in court on “terrorist offences” tomorrow.. the best laid plans o’ mice an’ men..?

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  • Crataegus

    Pete

    Right threat this time skimming through the old ones and posted in the wrong one.

    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

    Crat

    The other quote from Judge Burgess worth remembering, as noted in the previous thread, is:

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

    And I’d suggest the answer to your final question lies at the link in the original post – the best laid plans o’ mice an’ men..?

  • Peking

    ‘…firstly that we are dealing with an informer…’

    I never have thought that to be the case. After the court case, it could be too easily construed that he was. I felt that there was a deliberate effort to make this seem the case. But the authorities always try to do the opposite and make real informers look as if they aren’t. I would look in the opposite direction for government stooges.

    This whole thing stinks to high heaven. A judge takes mitigating factors into consideration after a verdict, not as part of reaching one. The media circus has been at pains to put a white hat on one side in this row and a black hat on the other. The PSNI are being used to bolster the position of one side and have been for a while – the arrest of Gray following his expulsion springs immediately to mind.
    Godfathers are being created and bolstered by government here, right in front of our eyes, just for saying the right things. We will be left with the ingrained gov. sanctioned criminality for years to come.

  • Pete Baker
  • harpo

    I’d say that this is much the same as the Sean Kelly case. In it the Provos were rewarded for their good behaviour on one issue by having one of their boyos left free when technically he should have been locked up.

    In this case I’d say the UDA was initially being rewarded for something (who knows what) when Ihab Shoukri had charges against him dropped. On the basis that he was one of the UDA’s favoured boyos.

    But now that it turns out that he is persona non grata within the UDA, the authorities have no such concerns about nailing him. It is not a reward to the UDA to leave him uncharged.

    It is a bit ironic though that if he had been a fully paid up member of the UDA and was still in good standing with them, he wouldn’t be facing charges tomorrow. He falls out with the UDA and his reward is to have to face charges of UDA related terrorism.

    You couldn’t make it up. But then under the appeasement process, unless you are part of one of the big mainstream groups you have no protection. Once you fall out with them and go dissident (on either side) you have to face the full weight of the law. But stay within one of the mainstream organized crime empire terrorist gangs and you are safe.

    As for anyone who believes that this hasn’t been happening, and that there aren’t political pressures on all parts of the law enforcement and justice systems to be lenient towards members of the mainstream groups, I really don’t know what to say.

    Ihab Shoukri’s only ‘crime’ in the current wonderland is to have dared to carry out his terrorism/organized crime outside one of the approved mainstream groups. If he hadn’t gone dissident he wouldn’t be in court tomorrow.

  • harpo

    ‘Godfathers are being created and bolstered by government here, right in front of our eyes, just for saying the right things. We will be left with the ingrained gov. sanctioned criminality for years to come.’

    Peking:

    No shit.

    Are you just noticing that now?

    Welcome to peace. If you keep your terrorism/organized within one of the mainstream groups, no problem. But go dissident and the full rules apply.

  • Pete Baker

    Bah

    Can we keep this conversation on one thread please!

    harpo

    I believe I may have mentioned that particular problem previously.

    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

    Should read:

    I doubt that the Shoukri’s are playing along..

  • McGrath

    Pete:

    I have read it all, it seems it all boils down to official gangsterism and unofficial gangsterism but more so a government changing its mind more times than it changes its knickers. Is this all Peter Hain?

  • Pete Baker

    McGrath

    It’s not all Peter Hain, but he is the current resident.. It’s been an ongoing policy of the NIO for some time..

    And it is a policy that has repercussions that they have not yet addressed.

  • Crataegus

    Pete

    Indeed a really sad state of affairs, state as an extension of the will of UDA central as it were, or is it the converse? I have heard comment in some business circles that one would need to be exceedingly careful in ones dealings with the UDA in relation to giving evidence against them or reporting difficulties. The advice in circulation was don’t. A very unsatisfactory state of affairs.

    Peking

    I agree that it is highly unlikely that the state owes the brothers Grim any direct favours. The problem with these webs of intrigue is they are insidious and corrupting. They erode confidence in the foundations of society.

  • McGrath

    Pete:

    “And it is a policy that has repercussions that they have not yet addressed.”

    Im not seeing the connection Pete, the policy part is paying off gangsters, thats obvious, but Im missing the essence of the “not addressed” part. What are you getting at?

  • Moochin photoman

    I cant help but feel that the “Bro’s” are dead men walking or is it just me.
    Their options such as they are, are limited to say the least. Their expulsion paves the way for another round of blood letting.
    Lets just hope that there isn’t a turf war of the kind we saw when Adair tried to take over the Shankill.
    Having just completed a series of workshops there… the Adair legacy lives on…7-11 year old describing perfectly how to produce various “bongs” and openly discussing being stoned is no joke. You expect a certain level of knowledge such as this amongst teenagers but never in my experience have i heard children of that age range be able to talk in depth about such matters.

  • Nevin

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

    Oh yes, the paramilitaries have moved from ‘war’ to ‘criminality’ (OOPS) ‘peace’.

    The (three) governments can switch from carrots to sticks just as the paramilitaries can turn their terrorism and criminality on and off like a tap but I thought judges were supposed to be above that sort of thing?

  • P113

    A politically expedient decision, much the same as the arrrest and imprisonment of several of the leaders of the Real IRA post-Omagh. In both cases, contacts had been made between the individuals concerned and agents of the state, with the explicit impression given that were they to follow the path of “peace” they would be left alone –

    http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2002/11/03/story864445528.asp

    One does not have to be a supporter of these guys to appreciate that the legal system is being abused so as to promote the broader “peace” process. Two wrongs do not make a right……….

  • Peking

    Harpo
    ‘In this case I’d say the UDA was initially being rewarded for something (who knows what) when Ihab Shoukri had charges against him dropped.’

    And you ask where I have been? The Shoukris and UDA Central have been at loggerheads for over a year now. Do you think the NIO didn’t notice and dropped the cherges thinking they were doing a favour to Jackie and the boys?

    By the way, when I talked of the deliberate embedding of gangsters, I had one particular NIO, Irish Government and media darling in mind.

  • Peking

    Yes, as P113 rightly states you don’t have to support theses people to be concerned at the legal and political structures being twisted.
    Them today – who tomorrow?

  • Crataegus

    McGrath

    “And it is a policy that has repercussions that they have not yet addressed.”

    We need to be careful what we say here, but let us assume for one moment that there is a political scheme afoot, and that there are other arms of the state involved in that policy. Let’s just imagine this hypothetical situation.

    There are a lot of consequences of this, here are two, (probably not the ones Pete is inferring)

    1 If you own a business in an area infested with these people and are having problems with extortion do you go to the police?

    2 If you have evidence against any of these people do you go to the police?

    This policy ‘for the greater good’ really does need to be questioned. None of these people are angels, and if you and your family are being terrorised by them you are left in isolation. Indeed you can have no confidence that you yourself may not be seen as an inconvenience. We have seen some unsolved murders with accusations that the people involved were being protected by the Police.

    You don’t buy off people who are much weaker than yourself. But the problem here may be past collusion and how do you deal with people who have information that may implicate the state. Then it may not be the Greater Good but quite specific interests that are being furthered.

    As I said previously this is corrosive. Judge Burgess is a man of some standing so if the implications are indeed correct, how far does this net spread? If an applicant in an area controlled by these people was to apply for a License to sell alcohol and was not in favour with the local thugs does this mean that there is the potential for a difficult tome in Court? Just how far does this go? If someone robs a shop, or lays into a youth are they above the Law?

    As I say it totally undermines confidence and is corrosive. It would appear to be a policy of self interest and have dam all to do with the greater good.

    But of course this is all just hypothetical?

  • Can I just point out that no-one has ever been convicted of membership of a paramilitary group since the ‘draconian’ post-Omagh variations of the Terrorism Act.

    This allowed someone to be convicted of membership of a proscribed (ie illegal) organisation on the word of a senior police officer. It is used frequently in the Irish Republic, especially against dissident republicans.

    However, it’s equivalent has not been used in Northern Ireland since the legislation was introduced. Note how at least two judges – in the previous UDA membership charge against Shoukri, and in the case against the kidnappers of Bobby Tohill – appeared to bottle it when it came to convictions for membership of an illegal group. Tohill’s kidnappers are now on the run, and the police are not looking for them.

    It is notable that in the previous UDA membership case against Shoukri, an officer was reported to have withdrawn from giving evidence (and there were some odd manouvers from the witnesses too).

    If yesterday’s reports are to be believed, an attempt is going to be made in court to convict Shoukri (at least partly) on the evidence of a forensic handwriting expert. A UDA statement was allegedly found in someone’s possession during the PSNI raid on the Alexandra Bar, and my guess is that the prosecution will link it to Shoukri. Perhaps the police believe that physical evidence can succeed where witness evidence hasn’t.

    However, one of the other things about the Tohill case is that it revealed an interesting loophole in the Terrorism Act – if a paramilitary group is on a Government-recognised ceasefire, you can’t be convicted of membership of it.

    The UDA is on a Government-recognised ceasefire (unlike the UVF), a technicality that – while almost forgotten about – means Mr Shoukri is highly unlikely to be successfully prosecuted for membership of the UDA on the basis of a note in someone’s pocket.

    Surely other charges would have more success? It would be futile to proceed along exactly the same lines as before.

    The dilemma for the Government, is that even if Shoukri is successfully prosecuted for any terrorist crime now, it will appear to have been unwilling to act while he was in the UDA.

    And what kind of message does this, along with the apparent manipulation of the legal process, send out?

  • Pete Baker

    Crat [and McGrath]

    I was pointing, in the quote – and the link it contains – to the previous thread entitled “the basis for a civilised society?”

    The repercussions of following such a policy are, to my mind, the undermining of the political and judicial system.

    Crat

    In fairness to Judge Burgess he can only assess any case on the basis of the evidence put before him – a point he himself made. Additionally it was his reported comments in that case which highlighted the topic currently under discussion.

  • Crataegus

    Gonzo

    Surely other charges would have more success? It would be futile to proceed along exactly the same lines as before.

    This is part of the problem would you give evidence against these brothers knowing the underlying background? I would imagine there are lots of people who have evidence against this pair. Would you risk it?

    The dilemma for the Government, is that even if Shoukri is successfully prosecuted for any terrorist crime now, it will appear to have been unwilling to act while he was in the UDA.

    Indeed this is an appauling message to send out.

  • Crataegus

    Pete

    Indeed the judge may be on the side of the angels and his statement with its implications intentional, well it’s hardly likely to be accidental. He is a precise person and has always struck me as both fair minded and strong minded.

    This simple illustrates how all in association can become tarnished rightly or wrongly as there is no confidence in the system.

  • McGrath

    Ah, the penny dropped! (my penny anyway, and its probably late) these gangsters have evidence to incriminate the government, right?

  • lib2016

    He! He! He! You sat back when they came for the Catholics, you sat back when they came for the Civil Righters, you sat back when they came for the republicans. Now they’re coming for your friends and allies in the unionist paramilitaries and the protests come, far too late.

  • Crataegus

    McGrath

    Some would say possibly some highly probably! At the very least the government has decided on a buy off policy and protecting criminal elements. Why? Our greater good or more specific considerations.

    When you sleep with a whore you are at the mercy of her digression.

  • Crataegus

    Lib 20016

    Now they’re coming for your friends and allies in the unionist paramilitaries and the protests come, far too late

    If you read the above we are complaining about the policy of appeasement, its quite the opposite of what you imply. Criminals belong behind bars be they Loyalist or Republican.

  • lib2016

    Crataegus,

    Don’t give me that sophistry – there were no protests from most of unionism through thirty years of perversion of the rule of law. Where were the calls for the UDA to be made illegal when the ‘romper-rooms’ were operating?

    To quote something previously posted by a person not unconnected with British collusion “Big boys rules apply…”.

    The unionists backed oppression and the cynical abuse of the law for thirty years. It’s a little late for them to protest now when the Brits are closing down the unionist front.

  • Pete Baker

    lib

    Hang on.. I’ll have a look through the Slugger archives.. I’m sure I mentioned it..

    [off sarcasm]

    On a more serious note..

    I realise that there are some bloggers who reflect party political lines. But some of us are trying to highlight events, as they occur, which are both important and revealing.

    Such an event is the apparent attempt to use the judicial system to influence an internal power struggle within the UDA.

    That, as I’ve repeatedly said, affects all of us.

    Two recent threads worth considering, “the best we can hope for?”

    and “you need to treat them like criminals”

  • Crataegus

    lib2016

    Play a long game, watch this one and follow the background carefully before jumping in. It has little to do with narrow party politcs.

    It is really important to everyone.

  • frank

    The uda get about !!

    http://www.sundayherald.com/56474