DUBLIN (AP) — Forensic experts launched a high-tech search Monday for the unmarked grave of a man killed and secretly buried by the Irish Republican Army, one of more than a dozen such victims who disappeared without trace decades ago.
Lead investigator Geoff Knupfer said ground-penetrating radar and a sniffer dog would be used to try to find the remains of Joe Lynskey, a Belfast IRA member who vanished in 1972. The outlawed group long denied responsibility but finally admitted in 2010 it abducted and killed him, allegedly in punishment for having an affair with the wife of an imprisoned IRA comrade.
The IRA in Belfast once had a unit called "the unknowns" responsible for killing civilians and members without admitting the violence. Those victims from 1972 to 1981 were buried in the Republic of Ireland and, sometimes, their families were told that the victims still were alive and had abandoned them.
In 1999, as part of wider peacemaking efforts, the IRA admitted responsibility making nine people disappear and started to provide information to a new commission established by the British and Irish governments. Over the past decade, their work has identified IRA responsibility for 16 disappeared people and found 10 of their remains.
Knupfer said his team would seek Lynskey's grave in a six-hectare (15-acre) field in County Meath northwest of Dublin based on information supplied by the IRA, but finding Lynskey would require "good fortune."
"It's an enormous search area, hampered by winter weather and short daylight hours," he said. Use of radar and the sniffer dog might "short-circuit the process and save us from having to dig up the entire vicinity," he said.
The work is happening within a few miles (kilometers) of the most recently detected gravesite. Brendan Megraw, 23, disappeared from Catholic west Belfast in 1978. His remains were found Oct. 1 and his family buried him Nov. 14. That discovery followed several months' work involving two excavations of entire fields.