Prosecutors in Northern Ireland accused a senior Protestant paramilitary commander Monday of executing a former colleague after assuring the victim's mother he would not be harmed. William "Mo" Courtney, 42, has been jailed awaiting trial on murder charges since June 2003, when police found the remains of 22-year-old Alan McCullough, who had been shot in the head at least three times.
Prosecutor Geoffrey Millar, in an opening statement to Belfast Crown Court, said Courtney had overseen the killing of McCullough as part of a wider feud within the outlawed Ulster Defense Association, Northern Ireland's largest anti-Catholic paramilitary group.
McCullough had fled Northern Ireland in February 2003 because he supported the UDA's deposed commander in west Belfast, Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair. Millar said Courtney, who had replaced Adair as the area's commander, repeatedly assured McCullough's mother that he could return home, the AP reports.
The UDA is supposed to be observing a 1994 cease-fire in support of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord, but remains involved in a range of violent and criminal activities within its impoverished Protestant power bases. A.M.