Adams to be freed
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) – Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams is expected to be released from police custody without charge today, and authorities will send a file of potential evidence against him to British prosecutors, a senior policeman said.
Adams, 65, has been in police custody since Wednesday for questioning over allegations that he was the Irish Republican Army’s (IRA) Belfast commander in 1972 and ordered the killing of a Belfast mother of ten, Jean McConville.
Adams will be released, but the transfer of evidence to prosecutors suggested he could still be charged later, the officer said. He spoke to The Associated Press on condition he not be identified by name because he was not authorised to disclose the decision before its official announcement.
Police faced a deadline today to charge or release Adams or seek a judge’s permission to extend his detention – a step they took Friday when an initial deadline was due to expire.
Today’s expected outcome – freedom but no official exoneration, with evidence bound for the Public Prosecution Service – suggested police do believe Adams was an IRA commander, but do not have strong enough evidence to charge him. British state prosecutors could provide a second opinion.
Adams has always denied membership of the outlawed IRA, and his arrest weeks ahead of elections in both parts of Ireland infuriated his Irish nationalist party.
The IRA abducted, killed and secretly buried McConville. It did not admit responsibility until 1999, when the underground organisation defended its action by claiming she had been a British Army spy. McConville’s remains were found accidentally in 2003 near a Republic of Ireland beach.
A 2006 investigation by Northern Ireland’s police complaints watchdog found no evidence she had been a spy.