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Friday, 13 October, 2000, 20:25 GMT
Top loyalist wanted over bar attack
Rex bar on the Shankill Road
Rex Bar: Scene of August gun attack
Detectives investigating a gun attack on a bar in Belfast's loyalist Shankill Road area want to question a paramilitary leader freed from jail under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The loyalist the police are looking for is now thought to be living in Scotland.

Before his release from prison, he was part of the Ulster Freedom Fighters' jail leadership.

It is understood that the police in Scotland planned to arrest him on Thursday but he could not be found.

He is wanted for questioning about a UFF attack on the Rex Bar on Saturday 19 August - the day a bitter loyalist feud erupted on the Shankill Road between the UFF/UDA and the rival loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Three men have been murdered and more than 200 families were forced to leave their homes in the Shankill area because of the feud.

Detectives have been studying hours of video material from security cameras of incidents linked to the feud.

They are believed to be planning other arrests in connection with attacks on the offices of the Progressive Unionist Party, which has links to the UVF, and on a Shankill taxi depot on 21 August.

Talks between UVF and UFF/UDA leaders to try to reach a truce in the feud have been continuing, but up to now no formal settlement has been announced.

Fifteen-year-old on charges

Meanwhile, a man and a youth have appeared before court sittings in Belfast on charges linked to the attack on the Rex Bar.

A 15-year-old old schoolboy appeared before a magistrate in chambers accused of attempting to murder Martin Overend.

He was injured when a crowd attacked him with makeshift weapons outside the Rex Bar. The schoolboy was also charged with causing an affray.

A detective inspector told the magistrate that when charged, the schoolboy replied: "Not guilty. It wasn't me."

The inspector said he believed he could connect the defendant to the charges on the basis of video evidence from an army surveillance helicopter and from video filmed by police.

Mark Whiteside, 26, of Dhu Varren Park in the city, faced four charges at Belfast Magistrates' Court in connection with the gun attack on the Rex Bar.

He was charged with attempting to murder a man and with membership of an illegal organisation - the Ulster Defence Association.

Mr Whiteside was also accused of having a semi-automatic pistol with intent to endanger life and of inciting an affray.

An RUC detective inspector told the court that when charged with the offence of attempted murder, the defendant replied that he was "deeply sorry" for his actions.

In response to the other three charges, said the detective, the defendant said: "No reply".

Mr Whiteside was remanded in custody until 10 November.

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See also:

27 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Truce hopes in loyalist feud
23 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
March calls for end to violent feud
15 Sep 00 | UK
Fleeing the loyalist feud
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