Britain hopes to find embassy killer in post-Kadhafi era

23rd August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain hopes to identify and bring to justice the killer of a policewoman outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984 after the fall of leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime, a government minister said Tuesday.

Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was shot dead while policing peaceful demonstrations outside the embassy.

The fatal shot was believed to have been fired from inside the building, sparking an 11-day stand-off with police, but the killer was presumed to have left Britain along with staff who later flew home under diplomatic immunity.

The killing led to Britain severing diplomatic relations with Libya until 1999 and has been a long-running sore in ties between London and Tripoli, along with the 1988 bombing of a passenger jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

London struck a deal with Tripoli during the rapprochement in 2006, ensuring that any suspects accused of killing Fletcher would be tried in Libya.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell believes the revolution in Libya could lead to the gunman responsible for the "outrageous crime" being held accountable.

"There is no question whatsoever that, following a free Libya under the transitional control of the NTC (National Transitional Council), that is an issue the British government will want to pursue with the new Libyan authorities," Mitchell told BBC radio on Tuesday.

"I am reasonably confident that a judicial process designed to bring that heinous crime to court would indeed take place."

In 2009, Kadhafi apologised for Fletcher's murder for the first time, but said no killer had been identified.

"She is not an enemy to us, and we are sorry all the time and our sympathy, because she was on duty, she was there to protect the Libyan embassy, but this is the problem that should be solved -- but who did it?" Kadhafi told Sky News television.

US politicians have called for the new Libyan authorities to extradite Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only man convicted for the Lockerbie bombing in which most of the 270 victims were American.

Megrahi, who has terminal cancer, was said to have only three months to live when he was released from a Scottish jail on compassionate grounds almost exactly two years ago, but he is alive and living in Tripoli.

© 2011 AFP

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