Suspect in N. Ireland court over 1972 IRA killing

22nd March 2014, Comments 0 comments

A man was remanded in custody on Saturday over the IRA murder of a Belfast mother more than 40 years ago, one of the most notorious incidents in Northern Ireland's "Troubles".

Ivor Bell, 77, a veteran republican, appeared in a Belfast court accused of aiding and abetting in the murder as well as being a member of the Irish Republican Army paramilitary organisation.

Jean McConville, 37, a mother of 10, was abducted by the IRA at her Belfast home in December 1972, shot dead and then secretly buried. She was accused of passing information to the British army.

In 1999 the IRA admitted her murder and her remains were found on a beach four years later.

The court heard the case against Bell stems from an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at Boston College in the United States.

They interviewed a number of former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding that transcripts would not be published until after their deaths.

However, a US court last year ordered that the tapes should be handed over to the Northern Irish police.

Bell's lawyer Peter Corrigan told district judge Amanda Henderson that on the tapes, his client "explicitly states that he was not involved with the murder of Jean McConville".

He also questioned whether the tapes had value as evidence given that they were not conducted by police.

"The evidence does not amount to a row of beans in relation to the murder," Corrigan said.

However, a police detective inspector, who told the judge he could connect Bell with the charges, said the transcript showed that Bell had "played a critical role in the aiding, abetting, counsel and procurement of the murder".

Bell was remanded in custody to appear in court next month.

The Troubles, the three decades of sectarian bloodshed between Northern Ireland's Protestant and Catholic communities, were largely ended by the 1998 peace accords.

Republicans, from the Irish Catholic community, want Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join the Republic of Ireland to the south.

© 2014 AFP

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