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Boston tapes evidence against McConville accused unlawfully obtained by police, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 23/06/2016

Denials: Ivor Bell
Denials: Ivor Bell

Evidence against a veteran republican charged over the killing of Disappeared victim Jean McConville has been illegally obtained from America, a court was told yesterday.

Ivor Bell's lawyer claimed excessive material was disclosed from the Boston College history project, in breach of an international treaty.

A legal bid will now be mounted to have the information excluded from a hearing to decide whether the 79-year-old should stand trial.

Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, faces charges of soliciting to murder connected to an allegation that he encouraged or persuaded others to kill Mrs McConville. The mother-of-ten was seized by the IRA from her Divis Flats home in west Belfast in 1972 after being wrongly accused of being an informer.

She was shot dead and secretly buried. Her body was found on a Co Louth beach in 2003.

The case against Bell centres on an interview that he allegedly gave to US researchers from Boston College as part of a project with 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Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, a US court ordered the tapes should be handed over to PSNI detectives investigating Mrs McConville's killing.

It is alleged that Bell is one of the Boston interviewees, given the title Z, who spoke about the circumstances surrounding the decision to abduct her.

A voice analyst has been enlisted as part of the case.

The accused, who is on bail, denies any role in events surrounding the murder, claiming that he was not even in the city at the time.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard yesterday that a Federal Court judge in America had ordered that the disclosure of Z's interviews was to be limited to material relating to the Jean McConville case.

Defence lawyer Peter Corrigan argued that the tapes handed over to police went beyond those restrictions.

"That evidence has been unlawfully obtained and should be excluded," he claimed.

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