Belfast Telegraph

Co Antrim ex-spy Ian Withers treated like 'escaped criminal' over 80s murder of Seychelles politician

Ian Withers
Ian Withers
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

A Co Antrim pensioner arrested over the assassination of a Seychelles politician has said he is being treated like an “escaped criminal”.

Ian Withers (78), was arrested last August on suspicion of the murder of Gerard Hoarau, an exiled Seychelles politician who was shot dead outside his London home in 1985.

He was flown to London and questioned by detectives, but later released without charge. Scotland Yard, however, said he “remains under investigation”.

The ex-private eye admits spying on Mr Hoarau for the Seychelles government but denies his murder.

He now says he feels like an “escaped criminal” and wants police to state he is no longer a suspect.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Withers explained he worked for the left-wing regime of Albert Rene in the Seychelles from 1979 to 1986 as a national security advisor.

"It was a time of political upheaval in the country that included several coups and an aborted mutiny by the army.

“My primary job was to set up, supervise and report on surveillance in numerous locations around the world, wherever there were people from the Seychelles who were suspected of plotting to overthrow their government,” he said.

The former-spy said he personally kept tabs on Gerard Hoarau and in 1984 arranged to have his home bugged, but was out of the country at the time of the exiled politician's murder.

“When I was arrested last year I was completely frank with them, I answered all their questions – I had nothing to hide. I presume I answered them to their satisfaction or they wouldn't have let me go,” he said.

“I do not understand why they are saying I'm still under investigation. If they say you can go and there's no further action, and then further down the road evidence does come up – there's nothing to stop them re-arresting me.”

While no one has been charged will Gerard Hoarau's murder, at the time it was suspected the Seychelles government were responsible – but Ian Withers said he is “convinced” they were not involved.

"Targets were a prime source of intelligence – there was no need or requirement to dispose of them," he explained.

Last year, police searched Mr Wither's Antrim home and seized laptops, mobile phones and other electronic equipment, which he said are to be returned next week.

“Being under investigation is a very unpleasant thing. I'm 78 now, coming 79 and you don't want that hanging over you,” he said.

“Thirty-four years on it's a bit of surprise for police to come knocking on the door like I'm some sort of escaped criminal – that's what it feels like. It's a bit embarrassing to be honest.

“What I would like them to do is catch the person or persons responsible and put them through the courts and, in the meantime, to publicly state that they've got no interest it me.”

In 1986, three people were convicted for perverting the course of justice in connection with Gerard Hoarau's murder.

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