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UK ‘will catch’ killer of Libyan embassy policewoman: Police chief


Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (L) attends a remembrance service to mark the 30th anniversary of the killing of British police officer Yvonne Fletcher in St James's Square in central London. Photo - AFP

London: Britain's top police chief said on Thursday he remained determined to catch the killer of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, exactly 30 years on since she was shot dead from inside the Libyan embassy.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe joined Fletcher's family, colleagues and friends in laying floral tributes at the spot in London's St James's Square where she fell on April 17, 1984. She was 25.

More than 50 people held a two-minute silence at a service held by the memorial stone unveiled by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1985.

"Yvonne Fletcher's parents lost their daughter," said Hogan-Howe.

"Her sister lost a sister. We lost a colleague, and we're determined to make sure we catch the person responsible."

Fletcher was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy while policing a small, peaceful student demonstration. Several protesters were wounded.

The shots were believed to have been fired from inside the building, sparking an 11-day stand-off with police.

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

The killing led to Britain severing diplomatic relations with Libya until 1999 and has long been an obstacle in ties between London and Tripoli, along with the 1988 bombing of a passenger jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

In 1999, Libya accepted "general responsibility" for Fletcher's death.

The British government believes the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammer Gadhafi's regime in 2011 has given investigators a much better chance of bringing a suspect to justice.

Britain was one of the leading participants in the Nato-backed military campaign that helped topple Gadhafi.

In 2012, Libya's then prime minister Abdel Rahim Al Kib laid a wreath at the memorial.

Within weeks, Scotland Yard sent a team of detectives to Libya to continue their investigations into the killing.

Hogan-Howe said the probe has "never stopped", adding: "We're determined to make progress, and I'm confident we're making good progress."

The policewoman's family said in a statement: "It is difficult to move forward when the past remains unresolved.

"The truth about what happened 30 years ago is just as important to us today as it was then and we call upon the current Libyan government to enable the police to complete its investigation.

"It is time this case was closed."

Fletcher's friend and colleague John Murray recalled being in the ambulance with her and telling her he would find out what happened.

"I will get justice for Yvonne Fletcher," he said.

"Bearing in mind that those were the last words she heard before she died, that's a promise I made to her and a promise I'll keep."

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