LONDON, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness on Thursday said that the arrest of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was "politically motivated."
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed Wednesday it had arrested a 65-year-old man in connection with the murder of a woman in 1972. Local media have identified the man as Adams, president of the Sinn Fein political party.
Meanwhile, police sources also confirmed that Adams was not the man arrested by the PSNI on the same day in connection with the murder of 15 people at McGurks Bar in 1971.
"I have been very close to the peace process over 20 years and in my opinion Gerry Adams is the single most important person in bringing about the transformation, which has taken us to where we are today," McGuinness said in a statement published on Sinn Fein's official website.
"In that context I view his arrest as a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of the elections due to take place all over this island in three weeks," he noted.
McGuinness said "there are people on the dark side of policing and this is an attempt to flex their muscles," adding that the arrest "raises very serious questions about the agenda of those responsible."
On Wednesday, the PSNI said in a statement on its twitter feed that "A 65 year old man has been arrested this evening in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in December 1972."
In a recorded statement the PSNI press office said, "Detectives from the Serious Crime Branch investigating the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972 have arrested a 65 year old man in Antrim."
"The suspect is currently being interviewed by detectives in the Serious Crime Suite at the Antrim Police Station," the statement said.
Police said in the statement that McConville, a widowed mother of 10 children, was abducted in December 1972 from her flat in the Divis Area of West Belfast and shot by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
The statement added that her body was recovered from a beach in County Louth, in Irish Republic, in August 2003.
Police said that the suspect had voluntarily attended Antrim Police Station.
Adams said in a statement on the website of Sinn Fein, "Last month I said that I was available to meet the PSNI about the Jean McConville case. While I have concerns about the timing, I am voluntarily meeting with the PSNI this evening."
He added, "As a republican leader I have never shirked my responsibility to build the peace. This includes dealing with the difficult issue of victims and their families. Insofar as it is possible I have worked to bring closure to victims and their families who have contacted me. Even though they may not agree, this includes the family of Jean McConville."
Adams continued, "I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family. Well publicized, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these."
Adams said he was "innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville."
During the past weeks, the PSNI have been investigating a number of criminal cases dating back to the 1970s, leading to multiple arrests in the region.
Some earlier reports on Wednesday mistook Adams for a 69-year-old man the PSNI arrested on the same day in connection with the bomb attack on McGurk's Bar in north Belfast in 1971 in which 15 people were killed.
The 69-year-old man, arrested in a different case unrelated to Adams, was released unconditionally later on Wednesday, according to the PSNI.