Hundreds pay tribute to police officer shot dead 40 years ago from inside Libya’s UK embassy

LONDON — Hundreds of people attended a vigil in central London on Wednesday to commemorate the life of a police officer who was shot dead 40 years ago from inside the Libyan embassy in the British capital.

Constable Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was killed when men armed with submachine guns fired from the embassy’s windows while she was policing a demonstration outside the building against the regime of then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Attendees laid flowers at the base of a memorial at the site where Fletcher died. The ceremony ended with the release of seven white doves in tribute to the slain police officer.

No one has been brought to justice for the death of Fletcher, even though campaigners, including her colleague John Murray, won a victory in a civil case at Britain’s High Court three years ago. A judge ruled that a former Libyan minister, Saleh Ibrahim Mabrouk, had been “jointly liable” for the plan to use violence during the anti-government protest, though he didn’t fire any shots

Mabrouk, who denied responsibility, had been arrested in London in 2015 but the case was dropped two years later by prosecutors because key evidence had to be kept secret on national security grounds. He was barred from the U.K. in 2019 over his suspected involvement in war crimes, and is believed to be in Libya.

Murray, who cradled Fletcher as she lay dying and promised to find those responsible for her murder, said Wednesday at the memorial that campaigners have launched a fundraising campaign for a private criminal prosecution and a request for Mabrouk’s extradition to the U.K. to stand trial.

“The terrorist murder of Yvonne Fletcher 40 years ago … was one of the worst atrocities executed by Gadhafi,” he said. “Justice is what we will get for a fallen colleague because we will never and can never forget her.”

Gadhafi, whose regime was linked to a number of terrorist acts, was killed by opposition fighters in 2011 during the NATO-backed Arab Spring, ending his four-decade rule of Libya. The north African country has been divided between rival administrations and beset by militia conflict ever since.

London’s Metropolitan Police said there are currently no active lines of inquiry and the likelihood of finding further evidence remains low. However, it said the murder investigation will never be closed and any relevant new information that comes to light will be assessed and investigated further.

“She had her whole career and her whole life ahead of her,” said Mark Rowley, the commissioner for the Met.

“Today, 40 years on from that terrible day, I join with all in the Met and across policing in paying tribute to her, in recognising her sacrifice and in keeping her family, friends and colleagues in our thoughts,” he added.

Fletcher’s family thanked the Met for its continued support.

“As in previous years the family has chosen to spend the day privately reflecting on the sister we knew and loved without any media intrusion,” the family said in a statement.


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