Saturday, August 27, 2011
Fletcher's Killer Identified
By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
9:56PM BST 26 Aug 2011
The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Abdulmagid Salah Ameri, a junior diplomat working at the Libyan embassy, was seen firing a machinegun from a window in April 1984.
Following the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, Scotland Yard, which has kept the case open, is planning to send officers to Libya in the hope of bringing the suspected killer and his alleged accomplices to justice.
Mr Ameri was identified by a witness in a 140-page secret review of evidence conducted at the request of the Metropolitan Police. The report, seen by The Daily Telegraph, was written by a senior Canadian prosecutor and addressed to Sue Hemming, the head of counter-terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service.
Pc Fletcher was killed by a single bullet that hit her in the abdomen. An 11-day armed siege followed that ended when 30 Libyans from the embassy were deported. No one has ever been charged with killing the officer.
Queenie Fletcher, her mother, declined to comment but said earlier this week that the turmoil in Libya offered the “best chance yet” of catching her daughter’s killer.
The remnants of Gaddafi’s regime came under further attack yesterday, with RAF Tornados using Storm Shadow precision guided missiles in an assault on the former dictator’s home town of Sirte as the rebels prepared for an assault on the city.
Fighting continued in Tripoli, the capital, but a rebel military chief claimed that they were in control of 95 per cent of the city.
Foreign Office officials are already in discussions with Scotland Yard about detectives investigating the Fletcher case, who have made three trips to Libya in recent years, returning to the country. Officials said finding the killer of Pc Fletcher was a “priority” for ministers.
The secret CPS report contains detailed testimony from David Robertson, a painter and decorator who had a clear view of the embassy on the day of the shooting and watched a man open fire on a crowd of anti-Gaddafi protesters.
The report says: “The man was holding the stock of the gun in his right hand, while his left hand was near the trigger area, as if he was about to fire. There were other men with him, with one to his left and at least two others standing behind him.
“There was no grille behind the window, although it appeared to have a blue haze, which Mr Robertson thought might have been a curtain.
“Mr Robertson made a comment to someone to his left about the gun and, as he did so, he heard the gun being fired from the direction of the bureau, a 'rapid rat-a-tat-tat’ lasting for two or three seconds.”
Mr Robertson subsequently identified Mr Ameri on television as he left the embassy after the siege. He believed that the man he had seen holding the gun was “second from the left” in a group of five Libyans.
Sources close to the investigation confirmed that the suspect identified by Mr Robertson was Mr Ameri. Scotland Yard believes he may have died, although this could be a pretence by officials in Libya to stop officers from questioning him.
The CPS report, whose existence was first disclosed nearly two years ago by The Daily Telegraph, concluded that there was enough evidence to prosecute two other Libyans, Abdelgader Mohammed Baghdadi and Matouk Mohammed Matouk, for conspiracy to cause Pc Fletcher’s death.
The report alleges they “assumed leadership roles” inside the embassy and Baghdadi in particular “advised that the demonstrators would be fired on, directed their positioning outside the bureau and gave instructions as to what they were to do when the firing stopped”. Graeme Cameron, the Canadian author of the report, declined to comment on his review yesterday but said that the current chaos in Libya presented “an opportunity for the Metropolitan Police” to gather more evidence.
He praised the police investigators for their “dogged” pursuit of the killers, despite being frequently frustrated by Gaddafi’s regime.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Helping the Metropolitan Police Service conclude the investigation is a priority for this government.
“It will be an important element of the UK’s relations with the new government of Libya. We are in contact with the Met and stand ready to assist them in returning to Tripoli when the conditions on the ground allow.”
Detectives were last allowed into Tripoli in July last year after heavy lobbying by David Cameron. They have not been back since. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The case remains open and we remain committed to identifying those responsible for killing Pc Yvonne Fletcher.”