Leading loyalist Mo Courtney has admitted to the manslaughter of UDA member Alan McCullough.
Courtney was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on Friday
The body of Mr McCullough, 21, was found in a shallow grave on the outskirts of north Belfast in 2003. He had been shot.
The prosecution at Belfast Crown Court said they were accepting his plea and would not proceed on the murder charge
In January an Appeal Court judge ruled Courtney should face a re-trial after a judge cleared him of murder.
A prosecution lawyer told the court on Thursday, "The Crown does not make the case that the defendant shot Alan McCullough.
"The defendant... has indicated that he would make the case that he did not know that a person at the scene intended to kill Mr McCullough but that he did contemplate that a punishment shooting in the form of a kneecapping would take place.
"The Crown accepts that the evidential problems arising from the circumstances justifies the acceptance of a plea to manslaughter."
Courtney was remanded in custody and will be sentenced next Tuesday.
Mr McCullough fled to England with other members of UDA leader Johnny Adair's so called 'C Company' when feuding broke out within the organisation.
However, he returned to the Shankill area of Belfast after his family got assurances he would not be harmed.
He was last seen leaving his mother's house in Denmark Street on 28 May, 2003, being driven away in a car.