Northern Ireland news

Family of Francisco Notarantonio ask for Stakeknife probe to be widened

The family of a west Belfast pensioner Francisco Notarantonio want the scope of an investigation into the British army agent known as Stakeknife to be extended
Connla Young

The family of a west Belfast pensioner killed by loyalists want the scope of an investigation into the British army agent known as Stakeknife to be extended.

Legal representatives for the family of Francisco Notarantonio (66) have asked Operation Kenova head, Jon Boutcher to widen the probe’s terms of reference after he confirmed that new forensic evidence has been discovered during the investigation.

Mr Notarantonio, a former republican internee, was shot dead by the UDA in his west Belfast home in 1987.

It is understood Mr Boutcher has told Mr Notarantonio’s relatives that the new evidence falls outside the current terms of reference of Operation Kenova - which was set up to investigate the activities of Stakeknife.

Some believe Mr Notarantonio was killed to protect former republican Fred Scappaticci - whom the media have named as the agent Stakeknife.

He has denied the allegation.

He is alleged to have been a member of the IRA’s internal security unit, which was responsible for hunting down informers.

Scappaticci is believed to have worked for the British army’s Force Research Unit (FRU).

UDA intelligence officer Brian Nelson - who provided details of targets to the organisaton - was also a FRU agent.

Mr Notaraontio’s family believe the information used by the UDA to target the pensioner was provided by Nelson.

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It is understood that during a meeting with relatives in Belfast last month Mr Boutcher said he could find no evidence of a link between Stakeknife and Mr Notarantonio’s murder.

The victim’s family now want Mr Boutcher to explore if there are any links between FRU agent handlers and the murder.

Brian Nelson, who it has been claimed died in 2003, is referred to in Operation Kenova’s terms of reference.

It claims that it was during an investigation into Nelson’s activities that Sir John Stevens became aware of Stakeknife.

The family’s solicitor Michael Brentnall, of Brentnall Legal, last night said: “Central to our clients’ allegation is that FRU, in conjunction with one of their agents, Brian Nelson, sought to protect the agent known as Steak Knife, and did so through the murder of Francisco Notarantonio.”

Last month Scappaticci was convicted by a London court of possessing extreme pornography after images were found on his computer during a search of his home.

A spokesman for Operation Kenova declined to comment.

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