Belfast Telegraph

Court told of loyalist and dissident threats to drug suspects

BY ALAN ERWIN

Paramilitaries warned one of two alleged drug dealers he had 48 hours to leave his home or else be executed, a court has heard.

Dissident republicans warned they may also target his co-accused as part of further attacks in Belfast, police said.

Details of the threat to their lives emerged as a judge maintained a temporary ban on identifying either defendant.

But with the prohibition set to be reviewed again next week, she questioned the use of reporting restrictions when those intent on inflicting harm already know them.

The two men are jointly accused of possessing cannabis with intent to supply. The alleged offences stretch back to an incident in Belfast in 2011.

Earlier this week an interim order was imposed to stop the Press publishing any details which could identify either man.

A defence lawyer based his fears for their safety on media reports and from speaking to police.

At a hearing before Belfast Magistrates Court yesterday, details of a threat found on a republican website were submitted.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was also shown a media report earlier this month of masked and armed men going into a bar in the city, reading out a statement, naming a number of people and warning them to leave the area.

During the hearing, a police officer involved in the case confirmed that attempts have been made to contact one of the defendants and alert him to a threat against him.

With the threat against the suspect classed as credible, police intend to advise him to review his own security.

A separate message was served on his co-accused on October 11.

Belfast Telegraph

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