GERRY Adams may be implicated in an IRA unit responsible for the killing of Jean McConville on tapes that could be released by a US judge, it was reported.
The leader of Sinn Fein has been accused of setting up the unit that abducted Mrs McConville before she was shot in the back of the head in 1972.
Allegations against Mr Adams, who has repeatedly denied involvement with the IRA, were made by two people interviewed by researchers for an oral history project on the condition the tapes were not released before their deaths. The claims were not independently verified.
Collected by Dr Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA prisoner, the interviews were intended to be held securely in America after the project, which was sponsored by Boston College.
But they could now be passed to police investigating a string of murders 40 years ago during the Troubles.
The university had believed police would not investigate crimes dating from the Troubles under the Good Friday agreement but last year, Judge William Young ordered that the tapes were handed over so he could decide if they should be given to police.
He will decide whether the release them despite opposition from Dr McIntyre and Ed Moloney, an Irish journalist who was the director of the project.
Dr McIntyre told the Times: "I carried out the interviews in circumstances of the greatest secrecy and confidence.
"The results were sent out of Belfast as quickly as possible. We were concerned at the possibility of them falling into the wrong hands.”
His wife, Carrie Twomey, told the newspaper she lived in constant fear of reprisals for her husband being labelled an informer.
Dr McIntyre and Mr Moloney have started their own legal action to stop the tapes from being released and are expecting a hearing in March.
Mr Moloney said: "In my opinion, criminal charges against some of those who were the architects of the IRA’s move into conventional politics and away from terrorism may follow if the tapes . . . are handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland."