|Policewoman Yvonne Fletcher was killed in firing from inside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984 [Reuters]
The fall of Muammar Gaddafi may make it easier for police to pursue the murder case against Libyans responsible for the 1984 slaying of a British policewoman, officials said on 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 UK’s relations with the new government of Libya,” she said.
The statement came after Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper claimed 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.
Gaddafi 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
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Oliver Miles, the British ambassador to Libya in 1984, said the emergence of a new government in Tripoli may make it easy to discover the truth about the killing.
“You have to remember, there were quite a number of people in the building at the time and they were all paraded out. They all know very, very well [who committed the killing] but they fell into two categories: general diplomats and members of the Revolutionary Committee. It was likely the murder was carried out by the latter group,” Miles said.
Miles said the Revolutionary Council’s strong links to Gaddafi may have made witnesses reluctant to come forward. With the change of government in Tripoli, however, the “Libyans in the embassy who know what happened may be willing to talk”.