Reputed Sinn Fein vet Gerry Adams questioned over 1972 murder of Jean McConville | News | DW | 30.04.2014
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Reputed Sinn Fein vet Gerry Adams questioned over 1972 murder of Jean McConville

Northern Ireland police have arrested Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams for alleged involvement in the 1972 murder of a Belfast woman. The case is one of the most notorious from the decades known as "The Troubles."

Irish republican party Sinn Fein confirmed late on Wednesday that its leader, Gerry Adams, had been arrested by police in Northern Ireland. He was being held for questioning in connection with a controversial 1972 murder case, which has recently made headlines as new evidence comes to light thanks to research from a US university.

In 1972, Jean McConville – a 37-year-old widow and mother of 10 - disappeared from her Belfast home, but was long believed to have been abducted and murdered by nationalist militant organization the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Nearly three decades later, the IRA admitted to murdering her for passing information to the British army.

"Last month Gerry Adams said he was available to meet the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) about the Jean McConville case,” Sinn Fein said in a statement on its website. “That meeting is taking place this evening (Wednesday)."

Both McConville's children and two former IRA members, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, accused Adams of involvement. However, the Sinn Fein leader has rejected the accusations.

Hughes and Price, prior to their deaths, contended that Adams had commanded a group within the IRA responsible for the assassinating suspected informers.

"I believe that the killing…and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family," Adams said in a prepared statement. "Well publicized, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these. While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs. McConville."

The two IRA veterans who implicated Adams in the murder provided the disputed information to Boston College, where researchers were gathering data on the decades of sectarian violence in Ireland known as "The Troubles" before a peace accord was struck with London in 1998.

The disclosed information was not supposed to be released until after interviewees' deaths. However, last year a US court ordered the testimonies be handed over to the authorities. It was also from this research that police in Northern Ireland were pointed to former IRA member Ivor Bell, 77, who appeared before a Belfast court in March in connection with the McConville murder.

kms/dr (AP, AFP, Reuters)