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I spied on him but I didn’t kill him, says OAP over shooting of political exile in 1985

By Staff Reporter

A pensioner from Co Antrim who was questioned about the unsolved murder of a politician in London 33 years ago has denied having anything to do with the attack.

Ian Withers, who worked as a security adviser to the Seychelles government, admitted that he spent three years monitoring the movements of the victim Gerard Hoarau, but played no role in the killing.

Speaking to Sunday Life, Mr Withers said: "There is no evidence that links me to it whatsoever. I have got no idea who murdered him.

"I know who the police think murdered him, but I'm obviously not going to mention anything of that because it would be potential sub judice."

Mr Hoarau, the leader of the opposition party in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, was gunned down on his doorstep in Edgware in 1985.

He was shot with a Sterling sub-machine gun.

Police have never solved his murder, but the Seychelles government was highly implicated.

Three people were convicted of perverting the course of justice in 1986, but a review of the case in 2016 is understood to have established fresh lines of inquiry.

Mr Withers was arrested at his home in Antrim on Thursday by counter-terrorism police and flown to London, where he was questioned.

The 77-year-old said: "In my job I was a consultant to the (Seychelles) government and one of the options that they did want to undertake was the monitoring of both Gerard Hoarau, who was killed, and three other people in the same area of London.

"I facilitated that by introducing them (the Seychelles government) to a company that had the technical expertise to provide that service."

In the weeks before his death Hoarau's phone was tapped by the security consultants recommended to the Seychelles government by Mr Withers.

Between 1980 and 1983 he had personally spied on the politician, he said, but stopped when they got to know each other.

"I met him (Mr Hoarau) many times," he said.

"The problem was he knew me because I had been watching him from early 1980 for about three years.

"I was watching him from various places around the world where he went and eventually he got to know me.

"He actually wrote articles to say wherever he was in the world he looked over his shoulder and there was Withers.

"It became a humorous thing, and it was a terrible thing that happened to him and that's what the police are investigating now and have been doing so for the past 30 years."

When he was interviewed in London, Mr Withers was told he was being treated as a witness, not a suspect.

He said: "I had a solicitor, but I didn't need one as it transpired. I was questioned as a witness.

"They probably regard me as a witness who could potentially be a suspect.

"At the end of the day I was deemed a witness and released."

Mr Withers also revealed that he is in the process of writing a novel about the assassination of Mr Hoarau, adding: "I'm looking for an author to help me finish my book."

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