Northern Ireland

Jean McConville: Ivor Bell to be prosecuted for aiding murder

Ivor Bell Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Veteran republican Ivor Bell is charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville

The prosecution of a veteran republican is to go ahead in connection with the murder of Jean McConville.

Ivor Bell, 78, of Ramoan Gardens, west Belfast, is charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Mrs McConville.

His appearance at Belfast Magistrates Court was the Public Prosecution Service's last chance to decide if the case would go ahead.

The Belfast mother-of-10, one of the Disappeared, was abducted by the IRA from her flat in December 1972.

Mrs McConville, 37, was kidnapped in front of her children after being wrongly accused of being an informer.

Mr Bell is also charged with membership of the IRA.

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Media captionIvor Bell appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court on Thursday

He is due back in court in six weeks' time, when a date will be set for a preliminary inquiry to establish if the case will proceed to trial in the Crown Court.

He was first charged in connection with the murder of Mrs McConville in March 2014, and the case has been adjourned a number of times.

Last month, a judge gave the Public Prosecution Service a final deadline to proceed with the case, granting its application for a three-week adjournment until 4 June, despite a call from the defence to discontinue it.

The prosecution of Mr Bell centres on an interview he allegedly gave to US researchers from Boston College who interviewed several former paramilitaries about their roles in the Northern Ireland conflict.

Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, in 2013 a US court ordered that the tapes should be handed over to PSNI detectives investigating Mrs McConville's killing.

Prosecutors believe that Mr Bell was one of the Boston interviewees.

Mrs McConville was held at one or more houses before being shot and buried in secret. Her body was eventually recovered on a beach in County Louth in August 2003.

The claim that she was an informer was dismissed after an official investigation by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman

Nobody has ever been charged with her murder.

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