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18 March 2004 Edition

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Shoukri released from jail

Loyalists threatened journalists and surrounded their cars outside Maghaberry Jail to prevent them taking pictures or filming as North Belfast UDA commander Andre Shoukri was released from prison last week after serving a two-year sentence for possessing a gun.

As Shoukri was being released on Friday 12 March, loyalist thugs, some wearing scarves to cover their faces, warned waiting journalists to stay inside their vehicles and not to try to take any photographs.

No members of the Ulster Political Research Group, the mouthpiece of the UDA, were at the jail for the release.

Shoukri was ushered into a waiting blue people carrier and driven at speed towards Belfast, followed by a cavalcade of loyalists driving top of the range jeeps and sports cars.

In a statement released later that day, a loyalist spokesperson claimed that Shoukri is committed to the Peace Process. "Andre Shoukri will not be making any more statements to the press. He has no interest in being portrayed in the press as another Johnny Adair," said the spokesperson.

On Thursday 11 March, PSNI supremo Hugh Orde linked a gun attack on the home of Johnny Adair's nephew Mark to Shoukri's imminent release.

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