Britain warned by Libya ahead of killing outside Libyan Embassy

Jan. 3, 2014 at 10:59 AM
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LONDON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Libya warned Britain of potential violence twice before a police woman was slain during a 1984 protest at the Libyan Embassy in London, documents reveal.

The previously secret papers, released Friday by Britain's National Archives, show British Ambassador Oliver Miles was called to the Libyan Foreign Liaison Bureau in Tripoli the night of April 17, 1984, where he was told an anti-Moammar Gadhafi demonstration in London "might include violence" and the Libyan government "would not be responsible for the consequences," the Daily Telegraph in London reported. Later that night, two Libyan diplomats phoned and visited the foreign office in London to voice concerns about the planned demonstration, saying "they would not be answerable for the consequences."

However, the warnings, along with intelligence reports that weapons, explosives and "assassins" were being gathered, were not taken seriously, the Telegraph said, and when the protest turned violent police woman Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was shot to death and 11 anti-Gadhafi dissidents were wounded.

The documents also show then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was reconciled to the idea no one would ever be held accountable for the officer's death and the government would have to "allow a murderer to go free" over concerns for the safety of thousands of Britons in Libya. The protesters who occupied the embassy for 11 days after the shooting were allowed to leave and return to Libya under diplomatic immunity. Also repatriated was Abdulmagid Salah Ameri, a junior diplomat later suspected of killing Fletcher, the newspaper said.

"They agreed that it was unlikely that adequate evidence could be secured, and that the culprit could be identified," the document states.

"The home secretary [Leon Brittan] asked whether repatriating the Libyan staff, including the perpetrator of the murder, could be defended. The PM [Thatcher] thought it could, provided British staff were successfully repatriated too."

Another document stated Brittan told Thatcher "arguably we should not be too concerned if the Libyans used the device of the diplomatic bag to take their arms and explosives out of the country."

"We had after all already accepted that we would have to allow a murderer to go free. The prime minister did not dissent from this view," the document records the home secretary as saying.

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