LONDON — Detectives were granted extra time Friday evening to question Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in one of Northern Ireland's most notorious killings, a move his Irish nationalist party blasted as politically motivated.
Adams has strenuously denied involvement in the 1972 shooting of a mother of 10 whose skeletal remains were found on a beach in Ireland in 2003. But in tape-recorded interviews handed over by Boston College, former members of the Irish Republican Army implicated Adams in the killing of Jean McConville.
Adams was arrested Wednesday evening under the Terrorism Act 2000, and police initially had 48 hours to question him. On Friday evening, a judge granted police another 48 hours.
Adams' arrest has highlighted Northern Ireland's struggle to deal with historical claims and injustices stemming from its bloody past while not upsetting the delicate peace project that has followed the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998.
Adams, 65, is a hugely significant political figure in the British Isles. He is a member of the Irish Parliament and the longtime president of Sinn Fein, the former political arm of the IRA that's now part of the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.
The case of McConville, a widowed mother of 10 who was killed in 1972, arouses particularly intense feelings in Northern Ireland. McConville, 37, was shot in the back of the head. In 1999, the IRA admitted that they had killed her because they wrongly believed that she was an informant for the British army.
Seven people have been arrested in connection with her killing, including Ivor Bell, 77, a former IRA leader who was charged last month. He denies the charges.