Libyan suspect denies British embassy murder: media

25th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Libyan suspected of killing a policewoman outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984 has denied the murder, British media said Friday, after interviewing him in the custody of rebels in Benghazi.

Omar Ahmed Sodani was working at the embassy when police constable Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was shot dead while policing a peaceful demonstration outside.

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.

Sodani, 59, was arrested by rebels fighting Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi because of his links with the regime.

In an interview with reporters from a camp in Benghazi, he denied he was at the embassy when the shooting occurred and said he would be happy to appear before a British or Libyan court to argue his case.

"The shooting should not have happened. It was a mistake, but I had nothing to do with it. For years it was difficult to talk about it, but I can say that I did not kill her," he said, according to The Independent newspaper.

He said he was actually in police custody at the time of the shooting.

"I had a quarrel with a police officer before the event, so I was detained and I was told while I was in the police station that a shooting took place and a police officer was shot," he said, in footage shown on Channel Four News.

Sodani said his name had been linked with the shooting because he had later become a prominent member of Kadhafi's regime.

"I am prepared to stand up before a judge, here, or in England, and say that I did not kill her," he said.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in London refused to confirm if Sodani was a suspect, but a spokesman said the case remained open and detectives had visited Libya as recently as last August.

"The murder investigation has always remained open and the MPS remains committed to identifying those people responsible for killing WPC Yvonne Fletcher," the spokesman said.

The chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents police personnel, said Sodani's arrest gave fresh hope of solving the case.

"This news and the possibility of regime change in Libya gives a real glimmer of hope that justice may finally be done," Paul McKeever said.

© 2011 AFP

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