3 UDA prisoners face disciplinary action over assault

 

Three loyalist prisoners, including UDA commander Johnny Adair, are to face disciplinary action following an assault on a Catholic inmate in Maghaberry Prison, Co Antrim.

Prison sources said Umberto Meli (36), a non-paramilitary Catholic prisoner, was attacked by the prominent UDA inmates Gary Smith and Ian Thompson on Sunday. Meli was treated for bruising and cuts to his head and body. It is understood he required stitches to his head.

Adair was not centrally involved in the incident but it is understood that afterwards, when Meli was walking along a corridor, Adair misinterpreted the situation and believed he had attacked Smith. Prison sources said Adair threw a missile at Meli and also threatened him.

A spokesman for the Prison Service said: "There was an incident in which two prisoners assaulted another prisoner and the police were called. An investigation is being carried out." He said disciplinary proceedings were likely. It is understood that sanctions could involve a loss of privileges and remission.

"At the end of the day, they seriously assaulted another prisoner. Adair made a threat, and that cannot go unpunished, but he did not start the incident and he is likely just to get a slap across the wrists," a source said.

Adair was released from prison in 1999 under the terms of the Belfast Agreement after serving a third of his sentence for directing terrorism. However, his licence was revoked during the UDA/UVF feud the following year.