Northern Ireland

Trial for 24 men accused of 12 July rioting

There was serious rioting in Belfast during the Twelfth holidays last year
Image caption There was serious rioting in Belfast during the Twelfth holidays last year

Twenty-four men are to stand trial accused of involvement in 12 July rioting in Belfast last year, a judge has ruled.

They face charges in connection with trouble surrounding a disputed Orange Order parade in the north of the city.

Nearly all of the suspects are accused of riotous assembly in the Ardoyne area.

Three of the defendants have been charged with similar offences in the Oldpark district.

Some of the accused face further allegations of having petrol bombs and damage to a police land rover.

One of them is also charged with hijacking a car during the disturbances.

Vehicles were seized and burnt out, and police attacked with petrol bombs, paint bombs and fireworks during three nights of violence last July.

During a preliminary enquiry hearing at Belfast Magistrates' Court on Friday, one of the accused repeatedly demanded to know whether any charges had been brought over trouble in other parts of the city.

At one stage he shouted out: "The PSNI have been putting us down for years.

"Has anybody been charged from east Belfast, their riots?"

District Judge George Conner warned the accused that he had the power to hold him in contempt of court.

Mr Conner ruled there was a prima facie case against all 24 defendants.

He granted a prosecution application to have the men returned for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

Twenty of them were released on continuing bail, while the other four were remanded in custody.

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