The lead forensic scientist and investigator for the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) is to retire this week.
Geoff Knupfer, who has been in the role since 2005, said it has been “an honour” to be so closely involved in humanitarian investigations.
The ICLVR was set up in 1999 following the Belfast Agreement to locate and recover the remains of those abducted, murdered and secretly buried during the Troubles – known as the Disappeared.
To date the remains of 13 Disappeared have been recovered out of a total of 17.
Mr Knupfer said: “The successes that we have had are down to the skill and determination of first-class investigators together with excellent forensic archaeologists and contractors.
“Everyone who works on these cases in whatever role is acutely aware of the plight of the families.
“I know that the commission will continue its humanitarian work and do everything possible to bring a resolution to these outstanding cases.”
Joint UK and Irish commissioners Rosalie Flanagan and Tim Dalton said Mr Knupfer’s leadership has been “outstanding”.
“His great experience and expertise transformed the ICLVR and today, largely thanks to Geoff, it is recognised as a world leader in this complex work of searching for and recovering the remains of those have been secretly buried for up to 50 years,” they said.
Mr Knupfer will be succeeded by Jon Hill, who is currently the senior investigator with the commission.
Mr Hill said it was a “real privilege” to work with Mr Knupfer.
“His pioneering vision and leadership transformed the ICLVR and I look forward to building on that to take on the challenges that lie ahead,” he said.
“The families of those still waiting for their loved ones’ remains to be found and returned can be assured that everything in our power will be done to bring them home.” - PA