A veteran republican charged in connection with the IRA's murder of Jean McConville is not medically fit to stand trial, a court has heard.
Lawyers for Ivor Bell, who has been diagnosed with dementia, claimed that a trial "could be harmful to his physical and mental health".
Bell, 80, from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, faces two counts of soliciting the IRA abduction and killing of the Belfast mother of 10 in 1972.
On Monday at Belfast Crown Court his defence team launched a legal bid to have the case against him thrown out.
Defence barrister Barry MacDonald QC said it was inevitable the court would find Bell was unfit to face a criminal trial by reason of his dementia.
He told the court that to continue legal action in the form of a trial of facts was "likely to exacerbate this condition".
Ciaran Murphy QC, for the Public Prosecution Service, said a trial of facts was in the public interest.
Judge Mr Justice Colton granted both parties one week to makefurther written submissions.
He said he would reserve his judgment until after he received the submissions.
Mrs McConville, 37, was dragged from her home in Belfast's Divis flats complex by an IRA gang, and accused of passing information to the British Army - an allegation later discredited by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman.
Her remains were eventually found in Co Louth by a member of the public in August 2003.
Nobody has been convicted of her murder.