Britain to pursue Libyan suspects in 1984 killing

AP News
Posted: Aug 27, 2011 1:06 PM
Britain to pursue Libyan suspects in 1984 killing

The fall of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi may make it easier for U.K. police to pursue the murder case against Libyans responsible for the 1984 slaying of a British policewoman, officials said Saturday.

Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was killed when officials inside the Libyan Embassy in London opened fire on a demonstration. The Libyans inside the embassy were eventually allowed to leave Britain and no one has ever been charged with the crime.

Libya's opposition National Transitional Council, which controls most of the country, is "fully committed to resolving" the case, a Foreign Office spokesman said on condition of anonymity because of government policy.

She said the British government considers it a priority.

"It will be an important element of the U.K.'s relations with the new government of Libya," she said.

The Foreign Office said it is standing by to help the police pursue the case inside Libya once conditions on the ground improve. Sporadic fighting has continued in some parts of Libya, and medicine and food are in extremely short supply.

The statement came after Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper claimed Saturday to have uncovered the identity of the killer. The newspaper cited a secret new report into the slaying, saying a witness had identified a junior diplomat who shot Fletcher dead. Police would not comment on the claims.

Britain broke off diplomatic relations with Libya for 15 years after the shooting. The two countries restored diplomatic relations in 1999 after Libya accepted responsibility for Fletcher's shooting, apologized and agreed to pay her family compensation.

Gadhafi said in an interview two years ago that he regretted the killing of Fletcher, but did not know who was responsible. He said Fletcher was not an enemy of Libya and had been killed while trying to protect the Libyan Embassy.