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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
'Non-arrest' of loyalist questioned
Ihab Shoukri
Mr Shoukri was to apply for bail conditions to be varied
A senior judge has questioned why a leading loyalist was not arrested after breaching a bail condition to stay out of Belfast.

Ihab Shoukri has been out on bail on charges of a loyalist feud murder and membership of the outlawed Ulster Freedom Fighters.

The charge of murder was dropped last month.

The prosecution was due to apply to have Mr Shoukri's bail revoked on Thursday.

However, Crown lawyer David Hopley said his instructions were not to proceed with the revocation application.

I am left with a residual concern about this matter - this is a public court
Mr Justice Coghlin

High Court judge Mr Justice Coghlin asked why, and was told by Mr Hopley: "I have not spoken to the police officer so I cannot tell you."

Asked by the judge why Mr Shoukri had not been arrested as new legislation demanded, Mr Hopley said: "There are certain things I am not at liberty to go into at the moment."

The judge said he did not think it right to interrogate the barrister, but added: "I am left with a residual concern about this matter. This is a public court."

Mr Shoukri was due to apply for his bail conditions to be varied.

However, Mr Hopley said the defendant's lawyers had withdrawn the application and given an undertaking not to renew it before his preliminary enquiry due to be held on 22 October.

Mr Shoukri, 30, from Alliance Road in north Belfast has been on bail since last December.

He was seen by police in Belfast last week in breach of his bail.

The dropped murder charged was in relation to the killing of Alan McCullough in June 2003.

BBC NI's Kevin Sharkey reports:
"The lawyer said 'There are certain things I am not at liberty to go into'".


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