19/12/2018

Former IRA And Security Force Personnel Face Prosecution In Stakeknife Probe

Former members of the Provisional IRA, MI5 and an undercover military unit may be prosecuted as the investigation into allegations of murder by an Army agent continues.

Freddie Scappaticci has long been suspected to be the agent codenamed 'Stakeknife', despite strongly denying he was an IRA informer and claiming only that he is a republican.

The officer leading the investigation into a range of activities surrounding the individual, has said he has collected enough evidence to charge former members of the IRA and security forces.

The probe is known as Operation Kenova and the agent has been linked to as many as 50 killings spanning a 17-year period.

Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, from Bedfordshire Police, plans to submit files to the director of public prosecutions for Northern Ireland next year.

In a statement, he explained: "We are going where the evidence takes us, so that has meant speaking to those with links to government, the police, military, intelligence agencies and paramilitary organisations. The vast majority of people we have spoken to have been victims or witnesses however we have also identified various suspects during the course of the investigation.

"We will continue to seek to identify and interview anyone thought to have information about the allegations we are investigating.

"We are using ground-breaking techniques to review and uncover forensic evidence which was not previously available and that has allowed us to drive this investigation further than has been previously possible."

The investigation has uncovered a number of new DNA profiles, and unidentified fingerprints which are likely to belong to offenders.

"This evidence is all helping us to piece together a picture of what really happened to allow us to finally get to the truth," Mr Boutcher added.

Freddie Scappaticci is alleged to have been the most high-ranking British agent within the Provisional IRA, earning him the codename Stakeknife.

He is widely-suspected to have led the IRA's internal security unit, known as the "nutting squad", which was responsible for identifying and interrogating suspected informers.

Mr Scappaticci left Northern Ireland when he was named by the media in 2003.

The ongoing investigation has led to many discoveries, which Chief Constable Boutcher has reported to the prosecution service as and when required.

The 72-year-old suspected agent was sentenced earlier this month to three months in custody, suspended for one year, after admitting possession of extreme pornography, as uncovered by Operation Kenova.
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SDLP Policing and Justice spokesperson Dolores Kelly MLA has welcomed the progress made by Chief Constable Boutcher following the announcement on Tuesday 18 December that others involved in the offences, which include murder and torture, will be questioned.

"The SDLP are pleased with the efforts Chief Constable Boutcher is making and would like to pay tribute to his determination and the resolve shown by his team," the Upper Bann MLA said.

"Lessons can be learned by the approach he is taking, in particular, his decision to put the needs of victims' families at the centre of this investigation.  

"For too long this particular group of victims' families, whose loved ones where tortured and murdered, had no voice. Now, at long last, Chief Constable Boutcher has given them a voice, and can hopefully give them the answers they have long been waiting for.

"It is our hope that truths may emerge and a light shone on the heinous activities of the provisional IRA, as well as the security forces involved in covering up these brutal murders.

"We would appeal to anyone with information to bring it forward to assist with the investigation."

Chief Constable Boutcher added: "I said at the outset that this would be a wide-ranging investigation and that is exactly what it has been. At the heart of the reason we are doing this, are the families, without exception they have each shown incredible strength, bravery and humility in speaking to me and supporting Operation Kenova despite various setbacks and disappointments they may have had over the years. I made a promise to those families that I would do everything in my power to get the truth for them and that very much is what this investigation is about.

"It has been hugely complex and, at times, challenging, but the team has been steadfast in its approach to gathering every possible piece of evidence.

"I would like to thank everyone who has helped support Operation Kenova so far, both individuals and organisations, and I would encourage anyone with information to come forward and speak to myself or my team. Our door is always open and we treat everyone with dignity and respect. Your voice could make a significant difference. Many people have now come forward. Please join them if you know something.

"I am investigating any role of the Provisional IRA or the Security Forces into these offences. The families of the victims deserve to know what happened and nothing could ever justify the abduction and brutal murder of these poor victims. These offences were committed by cowards and it's time the truth about those involved came out."



(JG/CM)

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