Northern Ireland

Ivor Bell unfit for trial over Jean McConville murder

Ivor Bell Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A trial of the facts will determine whether Ivor Bell was involved in Jean McConville's murder

Veteran republican Ivor Bell is unfit to stand trial over one of the most high-profile murders of the Troubles, a judge has ruled.

The IRA kidnapped mother-of-10 Jean McConville from her home in the Divis flats in west Belfast in 1972.

She was shot and buried, becoming one of the Troubles' Disappeared.

On Tuesday, a judge at Belfast Crown Court, sitting at the High Court, made his decision on Mr Bell in accordance with mental health legislation.

With the criminal proceedings against him halted, a non-criminal procedure - known as a trial of the facts - will take place before a jury in the new year.

It will determine whether Mr Bell had any involvement in Mrs McConville's murder.

Mr Bell, 82, from west Belfast, was charged with encouraging persons to murder Mrs McConville and endeavouring to persuade persons to murder her.

The prosecution case is based on tapes from a history archive of the Troubles that was collected by Boston College in the United States.

It is alleged that one of the interviewees on the tapes - an individual referred to as Z - is Mr Bell.

Mrs McConville's remains were found on Shelling Hill beach in County Louth by a member of the public in August 2003.

Nobody has been convicted of her murder.

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