Soldiers and ex-IRA members questioned about Stakeknife
‘We are going where the evidence takes us,’ says head of inquiry into British army agent
Serving and former members of the British army as well as former members of the IRA have been questioned about the activities of the army agent Stakeknife who allegedly was involved in up to 50 murders, it was confirmed on Tuesday.
The Operation Kenova team of detectives said suspects were being brought in for questioning for a range of offences including murder and torture.
“Suspects include members of the [British] security forces and the Provisional IRA as detectives investigate allegations of murder and torture by an alleged army agent known as Stakeknife,” they said.
Bedfordshire chief constable Jon Boutcher is leading a team of 80 detectives and civilian staff in a £35 million inquiry into the operation of the agent code-named Stakeknife who has been named as west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci.
Scappaticci, who is 72, has denied he is Stakeknife.
“I am investigating any role of the Provisional IRA or the security forces into these offences,” said Mr Boutcher.
“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,” he added.
“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,” said Mr Boutcher.
As part of the investigation, Stakeknife was arrested in January this year on suspicion of involvement in murder, kidnap and torture.
It is alleged that some of his victims were sacrificed by his handlers to protect his identity. He is believed to have been one of the British army’s top IRA informants, operating from the late 1970s until 2003 when he was outed as an agent.
I made a promise to those families that I would do everything in my power to get the truth for them
He was run by the British army’s undercover Force Research Unit. It is alleged that most of his victims were killed when he was in charge of the IRA’s so-called “Nutting Squad”, its internal security department which investigated suspected informers.
Earlier this month, Scappaticci was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, for possession of extreme pornographic images, including images of bestiality.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Operation Kenova team said that since January it had investigated a range of alleged activities dating back to the 1970s. It said it now had “gathered more than 12,000 documents, secured 1,000 statements and conducted 129 interviews with witnesses, victims and families resulting in more than 6,000 investigative actions for the team”.
“I said at the outset that this would be a wide-ranging investigation and that is exactly what it has been,” said Mr Boutcher.
“At the heart of the investigation and 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.”
The chief constable said his detectives “have managed to obtain a number of new DNA profiles and unidentified finger marks which are highly 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,” said Mr Boutcher.
He appealed to anyone with information relevant to his inquiry to call the dedicated phone line 01234 858298 (from Republic 00 44 1234 858298) or email email@example.com