Mon, Aug 29, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Suspect named in UK embassy killing: report

AFP, LONDON

Artificial flowers are seen on Saturday at the base of a memorial dedicated to police officer Yvonne Fletcher, who was shot dead in 1984 outside the Libyan embassy in St James’ Square in London, England.

Photo: Reuters

Eyewitness reports emerged on Saturday identifying a prime suspect in the 1984 killing of a policewoman outside the Libyan embassy in London, as Britain said the downfall of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi might help solve the case.

Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was shot dead while policing peaceful demonstrations outside the embassy. Nobody has ever been charged with her murder.

The fatal shot was always believed to have been fired from inside the building, sparking an 11-day stand-off with police.

However, the killer was presumed to have left Britain among the 30 staff who were then deported under diplomatic immunity.

The Daily Telegraph -newspaper said it had seen a 140-page secret review of the evidence and the investigation, conducted in 2007 by a senior Canadian prosecutor at the request of London’s Metropolitan Police.

The report was addressed to the head of counter-terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service, the state prosecutors in England and Wales.

The Daily Telegraph said the report included testimony from a decorator who watched events unfold from a bank.

The witness identified Abdulmagid Salah Ameri, a junior diplomat working in the administrative section, as firing a machine gun from an embassy window, it said.

“The man was holding the stock of the gun in his right hand, while his left hand was near the trigger area, as if he was about to fire. There were other men with him, with one to his left and at least two others standing behind him,” it read.

The witness “made a comment to someone to his left about the gun and, as he did so, he heard the gun being fired from the direction of the bureau, a ‘rapid rat-a-tat-tat’ lasting for two or three seconds,” the testimony said.

The decorator identified Ameri on television as he left the embassy following the 11-day siege.

The report concluded there was enough evidence to charge two other Libyans, Abdelgader Mohammed Baghdadi and Matouk Mohammed Matouk, for conspiracy to cause Fletcher’s death, alleging they “assumed leadership roles” inside the embassy on the day’s events.

It concluded they had conspired to open fire on the demonstrators.

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.

The British government believes the overthrow of Qaddafi’s regime would give investigators a much better chance of bringing a suspect to justice.

British International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell said it was too early to do so now, as fighting rages in Libya, but Britain would be raising the case with the rebel National Transitional Council.

“As soon as we can, the -British government will ensure that we do everything possible to secure justice for this awful crime that was committed 27 years ago on the streets of London,” he told BBC television.

The policewoman’s mother, Queenie Fletcher, said last week that the disintegration of the Qaddafi regime could help the hunt for her daughter’s killer.

“This is the best chance to find my daughter’s killer. Even after all these years, I very much hope that somebody is brought to justice,” she told the BBC.

A Foreign Office spokesman said investigating the killing would be “an important element” of Britain’s relationship with the new Libyan leadership.

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