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Jean McConville murder: Ivor Bell mounts challenge to have case against him thrown out

Published 19/11/2015

Ivor Bell
Ivor Bell
Ivor Bell
Jean McConville

Lawyers for a veteran republican charged in connection with the killing of Disappeared victim Jean McConville are to mount a legal bid to have the case thrown out, it emerged today.

Ivor Bell's defence team confirmed they will be seeking a hearing to examine the evidence amid claims he has no case to answer.

Bell, 78, faces a charge of soliciting to murder over an allegation that he encouraged or persuaded others to kill Mrs McConville.

The victim, a mother of 10, was seized by the IRA from her Divis Flats home in west Belfast in 1972 after being wrongly accused of being an informer.

Following her abduction she was shot dead and then secretly buried.

Her body was discovered on a Co Louth beach in 2003.

Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown district of west Belfast, was arrested and charged in March last year.

The case against him 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Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, a US court ordered the tapes should be handed over to PSNI detectives investigating Mrs McConville's killing.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 currently on bail - denies any role in events surrounding the murder, claiming he was not even in the city at the time.

He attended Belfast Magistrates' Court today for a scheduled Preliminary Enquiry (PE) hearing to establish if he should be returned for trial.

But defence solicitor Peter Corrigan contended that his client does not have a case to answer.

Mr Corrigan confirmed that Bell will be seeking an alternative Preliminary Inquiry (PI) to decide if he should be committed to the Crown Court.

Under that process witnesses can be called and cross-examined in a bid to test the strength of the evidence.

The case has been adjourned for a further four weeks.

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