31/05/2005

Former UDA chief refused bail

Former east Belfast UDA chief Jim Gray has been refused bail in the High Court over fears that he could flee the country if released.

The 47-year-old, who is charged with possessing and concealing criminal property and money laundering and denies the charges, was arrested near Banbridge in Co Down on 7 April along with his girlfriend Sharon Moss.

The Judge told Mr Gray’s defence team on Tuesday that he could not be certain the defendent would not flee if released on bail.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State, Peter Hain, has said that the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement remain valid and that the most serious obstacle to progress was ongoing criminality and paramilitary activity.

“The process is moving forward. The question is if we can get to the point where all of those concerned see some real point in engaging in proper negotiations that will require, amongst other things, an end to paramilitary violence,” Mr Hain said.

“If we can crack that problem then I think we can be in business for very fruitful negotiations, leading to a solution."

(MB/SP)

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