Northern Ireland

Ivor Bell has `no case to answer' lawyers tell court

Ivor Bell
Ivor Bell Ivor Bell

Lawyers for a veteran republican charged in connection with the killing of Disappeared victim Jean McConville believe he may not have a case to answer, a court heard has heard.

A judge was told Ivor Bell's defence team could now mount a bid to have the prosecution thrown out before it reaches trial.

Bell (78) faces charges of aiding and abetting Mrs McConville's murder, and membership of the IRA.

The mother of 10 was seized by the IRA from her home in 1972, was shot dead and secretly buried. Her body was discovered on a Co Louth beach in 2003.

Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in 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. It is alleged Bell is one of the Boston interviewees, given the title Z. A voice analyst has been enlisted as part of the case.

The accused - who is on bail - denies any role in events.

He attended Belfast Magistrates' Court yesterday for a scheduled preliminary enquiry (PE) hearing to establish if he should be returned for trial.

Some of Mrs McConville's children were in the public gallery.

Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan requested an adjournment for time to confirm his client's attitude in the case.

With prosecution documents having now been served on the defence, Mr Corrigan told the court: "The preliminary view from reading the papers is there isn't a case to answer."

He added that an alternative preliminary inquiry (PI) was more likely to decide if Bell should be committed to the Crown Court.

District Judge Eamonn King agreed to put the case back four weeks.