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Northern Ireland police chief defends arrest of Gerry Adams, rejects Sinn Fein criticisms

  • Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams gets a warm welcome from a woman on the Andersonstown road in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, May 5, 2014.  A police evidence file documenting Gerry Adams' Irish Republican Army career has been delivered to British state prosecutors in Belfast, but experts say the chances of the Sinn Fein leader being charged are slim on legal, political and particularly national-security grounds. Adams, 65, walked free Sunday after five days of police interrogation and declared his innocence in the unsolved 1972 abduction, slaying and secret burial of a Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams gets a warm welcome from a woman on the Andersonstown road in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, May 5, 2014. A police evidence file documenting Gerry Adams' Irish Republican Army career has been delivered to British state prosecutors in Belfast, but experts say the chances of the Sinn Fein leader being charged are slim on legal, political and particularly national-security grounds. Adams, 65, walked free Sunday after five days of police interrogation and declared his innocence in the unsolved 1972 abduction, slaying and secret burial of a Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams smiles toward supporters as Martin McGuinness looks on during a party rally in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, May, 5 2014. Adams walked free Sunday after five days of police interrogation and declared his innocence in the unsolved 1972 abduction, slaying and secret burial of a Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams smiles toward supporters as Martin McGuinness looks on during a party rally in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, May, 5 2014. Adams walked free Sunday after five days of police interrogation and declared his innocence in the unsolved 1972 abduction, slaying and secret burial of a Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, center, is welcomed from a colleague during a party rally in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday May 5, 2014. Adams walked free Sunday after five days of police interrogation and declared his innocence in the unsolved 1972 abduction, slaying and secret burial of a Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, center, is welcomed from a colleague during a party rally in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday May 5, 2014. Adams walked free Sunday after five days of police interrogation and declared his innocence in the unsolved 1972 abduction, slaying and secret burial of a Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)  (The Associated Press)

Northern Ireland's police chief has defended the decision to arrest Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams over a 1972 IRA killing, saying the evidence warranted his interrogation even though no charges have been filed.

In his first public comments since Adams' arrest and five days of police detention, Chief Constable Matt Baggott said Adams' Irish nationalist party was wrong to say that Adams was singled out for political reasons. Sinn Fein accused what it called a "dark side" of Protestant hardliners within the force of conspiring to demonize Adams.

Baggott, an Englishman who has led the force since 2009, said Tuesday that a judge who saw the evidence midway through Adams' interrogation believed extended questioning of the 65-year-old party leader was merited.

Adams was released Sunday.