31/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 00:37

Paramilitary Shoukri group gives up final arms

Category: Northern Ireland

Published: 3rd Mar 2010 13:17:20

The final report from the body which oversaw decommissioning in Northern Ireland has been published.

The IICD saw IRA, UDA/UFF, UVF/RHC, INLA, OIRA and weapons from paramilitary micro-groups destroy arms over its 12 years in existence.

In its final report the body said the "Shoukri paramilitary element" decommissioned in December 2009.

Andre and Ihab Shoukri were high profile UDA members expelled from the loyalist grouping. Ihab died in 2008.

The pair were unlikely loyalists, two of the three sons of an Egyptian man who married a local woman.

Raised in the Westland estate Andre Shoukri attended an integrated school for a while, but joined the UDA, an organisation which has had links to the racist group Combat 18.

Andre Shoukri first became known after being charged with the manslaughter of a rising tennis star in Belfast in 1996.

He punched Gareth Parker, a Catholic, who fell on the road and was hit by a car. Shoukri pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault and received an eight-month jail sentence. He was aged 19 at the time.

Later he was alleged to have risen through the ranks of the organisation to take over the leadership of the UDA in north Belfast.

In July 2003, he was given a two-year prison sentence for possession of a gun.

By 2004, he was one of the UDA's "brigadiers" who met the then Secretary of State Paul Murphy.

He and his elder brother, Ihab, were expelled from the UDA in 2006, along with another close associate, with the group's ruling body, the 'inner council' accusing them of being criminals.

The UDA leadership accused them of running a drugs empire, extorting tens of thousands of pounds from businesses, and siphoning off money from funds for UDA prisoners.

In one court hearing police had said Andre Shoukri had gambled £863,000 in a Belfast bookmakers.

In 2007 Andre Shoukri was sentenced to nine years in prison at Belfast Crown Court over an extortion racket on a Belfast bar.

In November 2008 Ihab Shoukri died in his home in Rathcoole, Newtownabbey of a suspected drugs overdose. He was 34.

The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning said arms, ammunition and explosive devices had been decommissioned by the 'element' in December 2009, which followed on from two previous events in which a small number of arms were decommissioned.

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