Qaddafi's ex-aide accused of role in plan that led to officer's death at UK embassy

Pc Yvonne Fletcher was killed outside the Libyan embassy in 1984 while policing an anti-Qaddafi demonstration

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Wpc Yvonne Fletcher
Police release new video footage showing murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, London, Britain - 19 Nov 2015
Dramatic footage released by Scotland Yard today (19 Nov 2015) showing the shooting of Wpc Yvonne Fletcher who was killed as shots were fired from inside the Libyan People's Bureau on 17 April 1984 as she policed a demonstration against Colonel Gadaffi. A Libyan man, in his 50s, was arrested and held this morning at a location in the South East of England on conspiracy to murder along with two other people for money laundering. Police said his arrest was the most significant development in the hunt for the killer and those who ordered the shooting 31 years ago. Police have issued the footage along with the faces of 14 demonstrators in the pro-Gaddafi crowd that they want to identify as part of a worldwide appeal.

A former aide to Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi was a leading participant in a plan to use “extreme violence by gunfire” at a protest outside the country's embassy in London, where a policewoman was shot dead 37 years ago, the UK High Court has been told.

Constable Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was killed while policing the demonstration against the former Libyan leader outside the building in St James's Square, on April 17, 1984.

Retired police officer John Murray, 66, is bringing a civil claim for a nominal amount of £1 against Saleh Ibrahim Mabrouk, who has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Murray, who has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder since the incident, is seeking the “vindicatory” damages for alleged assault and battery in a bid to bring to a “judicial forum” the evidence surrounding his friend's death.

His barrister, Phillippa Kaufmann QC, told a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Wednesday, that “nobody has ever yet been brought to justice for killing Yvonne Fletcher".

Mr Mabrouk was arrested in 2015 in connection with Fletcher's death but two years later the Metropolitan Police said that, while detectives could identify those responsible, charges could not be brought.

This was because key evidence had been kept secret to protect national security. Ms Kaufmann said Mr Murray's claim did not rely on that evidence.

The court heard that Mr Mabrouk has chosen not to participate in the proceedings and he was not represented on Wednesday.

Mr Mabrouk, the court was told, said he was not present when Fletcher was killed, “nor did I instruct anyone to kill her, nor did I encourage anyone to kill her.”

But, in written submissions, Ms Kaufman said it is “inconceivable” that Mr Mabrouk was “not at the heart of decision-making in relation to the use of armed violence against the anti-Qaddafi protesters”.

“The orchestration of the shooting was entirely consistent with the official functions he had been given under the Qaddafi regime,” she said.

The court was told that Mr Mabrouk, a member of the pro-Qaddafi Libyan Revolutionary Committee, was among the men who controlled the embassy on April 17 1984, with him being described as having “fanatical” pro-Qaddafi political views at the time.

In preparation for a planned student protest over political executions carried out by the Qaddafi government met police representatives, including John Sullivan, who set up barriers that morning.

They were met with “objections and hostility” from men in the embassy, including Mr Mabrouk, who allegedly told Mr Sullivan, “We have guns here today, there is going to be fighting”, the court was told.

Footage of the moment Fletcher was shot was played to the court. Mr Murray sat with his head bowed as the video was shown.

Mr Murray, who was supported in court by former police officers, cradled his colleague as she lay dying, promising on the way to hospital that he would find her killers.

Witnesses allegedly saw a gun barrel and a cloud of smoke at a first-floor window of the embassy, and a spent 9mm cartridge case, firearms residue and guns were later discovered, Ms Kaufmann said.

She said Mr Mabrouk did not fire any shots from the embassy, but claimed the evidence “overwhelmingly” established there was a “plan”, which he was allegedly part of, to use violence at the protest.

She said Mr Mabrouk and others were controlling entry to the embassy on the morning of the shooting, and with the weapons inside it was “inconceivable that the individuals who fired from the first floor window were not acting under his direction, instruction, inducement, incitement and/or persuasion".

In 2019, Mr Mabrouk was “excluded” from the UK over his “suspected involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity”, the court heard.

He has denied being involved “in any form of terrorist violence” and said Libya has previously admitted responsibility and paid compensation to Fletcher's mother.

The hearing before Mr Justice Martin Spencer, which is due to last three days, continues.

Updated: November 11th 2021, 8:03 AM
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