Northern Ireland

Kingsmills massacre suspect 'linked to 46 murders', inquest hears

The 10 victims of the Kingsmills massacre
Image caption Ten workmen, aged from 19 to 58, were murdered by the IRA at Kingsmills in 1976

An inquest into the IRA killing of 10 Protestant workmen in County Armagh has been told that a key suspect has been linked to almost 50 murders.

The Belfast Coroners' Court inquest into the murders more than 40 years ago was hearing from a barrister for some of the victims' families on Wednesday.

The 10 men were ordered out of a bus and shot in January 1976 in what became known as the Kingsmills massacre.

No-one has ever been convicted in connection with the killings.

Speaking in court, the families' barrister referred to a Police Service of Northern Ireland review of the case that was conducted after a report by its Historical Enquiries Team in 2011.

The barrister said the police review linked a "prime individual" to 46 murders that happened between 1974 to 1976.

The killings included 22 civilians, one of whom was a seven-year-old boy.

The other murders involved 21 soldiers, two police officers, and a paramilitary activist.

'An open mind'

The inquiry into the massacre is also seeking clarity on the status of so-called 'on-the-run' letters after it was claimed that a number of suspects in the massacre received the controversial correspondence.

The controversial letters were issued by the government and assured the recipients that they were not being sought by police.

Image caption The victims were shot after IRA gunmen stopped their bus as the travelled home from work

During the cross-examination of a police intelligence officer on Wednesday, the barrister asked if forensic evidence that is not new "dies a death" because of the letters.

The police witness said he did not know and therefore could not answer the question.

The coroner said he was also not clear on the status of the letters and the hearing would keep "an open mind" on the question.

He said it may be that some other witness will be required to provide an answer.

The inquest into the killings has resumed this week after being adjourned last year due to a police investigation.

It also heard on Wednesday about a secret intelligence document that recorded details of a self-confessed member of the IRA providing a list of 11 suspects.

The hearing was also informed of police intelligence that linked a "crack unit" of the IRA in Whitecross in County Armagh with the massacre.

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