Police: Gerry Adams to be freed, charges unlikely

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Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, centre, with party members Bobby Storey, left, and Martina Anderson speak during a protest rally on the Falls Road, West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Saturday, May, 3, 2014. Police continue to question the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at Antrim police station about the 1972 murder of Jean McConville. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, centre, with party members Bobby Storey, left, and Martina Anderson speak during a protest rally on the Falls Road, West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Saturday, May, 3, 2014. Police continue to question the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at Antrim police station about the 1972 murder of Jean McConville. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

FILE – In this Thursday Jan. 12, 2012 file photo, Helen McKendry holds a family photograph showing her mother Jean McConcille, at home in Killyleagh, Northern Ireland. Police in Northern Ireland arrested Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams on Wednesday over his alleged involvement in the Irish Republican Army’s 1972 abduction, killing and secret burial of a Belfast widow. Adams, 65, confirmed his own arrest in a prepared statement and described it as a voluntary, prearranged interview. Police long had been expected to question Adams about the killing of Jean McConville, a 38-year-old mother of 10 whom the IRA killed with a single gunshot to the head as an alleged spy. According to all authoritative histories of the Sinn Fein-IRA movement, Adams served as an IRA commander for decades, but he has always denied holding any position in the outlawed group. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, file)

Michael McConville, the son of Jean McConville who was murdered by the IRA, speaks to the media at the Wave Trauma centre in Belfast, Thursday, May, 1, 2014. Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is still being questioned by police at Antrim police station after being arrested late Wednesday in connection with the murder of Jean McConville. (AP Photo)

A woman and child make their way past a newly painted mural of Gerry Adams on the Falls Road, West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Friday, May, 2 2014. Police continue to question the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at Antrim police station about the 1972 murder of Jean McConville. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

FILE- In this Monday, May 31, 1999 file photo, Helen McHendry and husband Seamus find the agonizing wait for the recovery of Helen’s mother all too much as Irish police continue to search for the body of her mother, Jean Mc Conville, in Dundalk, Irish Republic. Police in Northern Ireland arrested Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams on Wednesday over his alleged involvement in the Irish Republican Army’s 1972 abduction, killing and secret burial of a Belfast widow. Adams, 65, confirmed his own arrest in a prepared statement and described it as a voluntary, prearranged interview. Police long had been expected to question Adams about the killing of Jean McConville, a 38-year-old mother of 10 whom the IRA killed with a single gunshot to the head as an alleged spy. According to all authoritative histories of the Sinn Fein-IRA movement, Adams served as an IRA commander for decades, but he has always denied holding any position in the outlawed group. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, file)

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams is expected to be released without charge after five days in police custody, but detectives will send a file of evidence against him to British prosecutors for potential charges later, 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 Belfast commander in 1972 and ordered the killing of a Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville.

The extended detention of the Irish nationalist leader was threatening to undermine power-sharing in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein said detectives questioned Adams about audiotaped interviews by IRA veterans to a Boston College oral history project that made those claims against him.

The senior officer spoke to The Associated Press on condition he not be identified by name because he was not authorized to disclose the decision before its official announcement.

Police faced a Sunday deadline 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.

The IRA abducted, killed and secretly buried McConville. It did not admit responsibility until 1999, when the underground organization 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.

Sunday’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 with this. Police last charged Adams with IRA membership in 1978 following a firebomb attack on a hotel near Belfast that killed 12 Protestants, but those charges were dropped.

British state prosecutors in Belfast would provide a second opinion. They could tell police either that no case could succeed based on existing evidence, recommend new avenues of investigation to strengthen the chances of a successful prosecution, or determine that charges should be filed. Typically however, when such evidence files are sent by police to prosecutors for complex terror-related cases, charges do not follow.

Adams has always denied membership of the outlawed IRA. His arrest weeks ahead of elections in both parts of Ireland infuriated his Irish nationalist party, which represents most of the Irish Catholic minority in Northern Ireland and is a growing left-wing opposition force in the Irish Republic.

Sinn Fein warned it could withdraw its support for law and order in Northern Ireland, a threat condemned Sunday by the Protestant leader of the province’s power-sharing government, First Minister Peter Robinson.

Speaking Sunday before

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