Kings counsels for Ivor Bell, 79, told a judge their client had been identified with a vascular form of dementia.
The diagnosis is likely to prompt a bulwark application that Bell is unfit to stand trial on two counts of hustling Jean McConville’s killing in 1972.
The defendant, from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, did not become available at the pre-trial hearing in Belfast Crown Court on Monday.
His barrister, Dessie Hutton, showed the outcome of a defence commissioned medical examination to judge Seamus Treacy.
“He suffers from dementia which has a cardio vascular effect and he wouldn’t be able to properly follow the course of proceedings,” said the counselor-at-law.
A prosecution lawyer told the judge that he would like to commission a psychiatrist to quiz the defendant. He also requested full access to Bell’s medical files.
Referee Treacy adjourned the case until December 16 when queens will provide a further update on how the case will proceed.
Mrs McConville’s son, Michael, was amidst those watching on from public gallery of the court. His 37-year-old native was dragged from her home in Belfast’s Divis flats complex by an IRA join forces against of up to 12 men and women.
She was accused of ssing information to the British Army – an declaration later discredited by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman. Mrs McConville was stab in the back of the head and secretly buried 50 miles from her serene, becoming one of the “Disappeared” victims of the Troubles.
It was not until 1999 that the IRA allow in the murder when information was ssed to police in the Irish Republic. Her stays were eventually found on Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth by a colleague of the public in August 2003.
Nobody has been convicted of her murder.
The case against Bell is based on the happy of tapes police secured from an oral history archive collated by Boston College in the Of one mind States.
Academics interviewed a series of former republican and loyalist ramilitaries for their Belfast Work up on the understanding that the accounts of the Troubles would remain unpublished until their eradications.
But that undertaking was rendered meaningless when Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detectives probing Mrs McConville’s death won a court battle in the US to secure the recordings.
It is alleged that one of the assessments was given by Bell – a claim the defendant denies.