25 May 2012

Libyan PM lays wreath at spot Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead

Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib bows and lays a wreath of white roses at the spot where policewoman Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead outside the country’s London embassy in 1984.

Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib bows and lays a wreath of white roses at the spot where policewoman Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead outside the country's London embassy in 1984.

The historic visit and wreath-laying comes a day after Mr El-Keib met Prime Minister David Cameron and news that Scotland Yard will fly to Libya to investigate Ms Fletcher’s murder. No-one has ever been brought to justice for the killing.

The leaders’ meeting was one of several high-profile events that included Mr El-Keib speaking to police and Home Office officials in London to discuss the Lockerbie bombing. The visit comes four days after the death of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

“I am absolutely delighted that we are working so closely together on issues of mutual interest, including having a Metropolitan Police team going to Libya,” Mr Cameron said on Thursday.

“I am here bringing with me all the sincere appreciation of the Libyan people to the UK people and you personally,” Mr El-Keib told the Prime Minister. “You took a bold decision when it was very difficult for many to even consider supporting the Libyan people. You took that decision which inspired many of us.”

‘Long-term friends’

Commander Richard Walton, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, welcomed the invitation to visit Libya to move the Fletcher inquiry forward.

“We have never lost our resolve to solve this murder and achieve justice for Yvonne’s family,” he said.

Ms Fletcher, 25, was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in London. The bullets that killed her and injured 10 protesters are believed to have come from inside the embassy, but no-one has ever been charged with her murder.

The suspects

Junior diplomat Abdulmagid Salah Ameri, suspected of firing the fatal shots, was deported with other embassy officials following an 11-day stand-off at the London embassy and he disappeared without a trace, The Telegraph reported in August citing a secret report sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.

It is unclear whether British police will interview him or Matouk Mohammed Matouk while in Libya. Mr Matouk was named in the report as one of two men who possibly conspired to murder WPc Fletcher by the Crown Prosecution Service but in 2011 he was on the run from the new regime.

Mr Matouk was a key player in American-Libiyan relations, US officials said in 2011 cables published by WikiLeaks. He was also a contact of the UK’s Foreign Office according to a letter sent to then-Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa in 2003 by Britain’s former head of counter-terrorism.

A second suspect, embassy official Abdulqadir al-Baghdadi, was shot in the head in 2011, rebels said

Elections upcoming

Mr El-Keib said Libya wanted to be “long-term friends and partners” with Britain and thanked the UK for its role in last year’s uprising.

Officers from Scotland Yard and Home Office Minister James Brokenshire also met Mr El-Keib during his visit.

Mr El-Keib was appointed interim prime minister of Libya in October. Elections for a national assembly for Libya are expected in the next few months although no date has yet been set.

Mr El-Keib has worked as an academic and businessman in the United States and United Arab Emirates and played no part in the former government’s administration.