LONDON (AP) — A British court found a former official in Muammar Gadhafi’s government “jointly liable” Tuesday for the fatal 1984 shooting of a police officer outside the Libyan Embassy in London.
Constable Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was killed when men armed with submachine guns fired from the embassy’s windows on protesters gathered outside the building.
A former colleague of Fletcher’s brought a civil case against Saleh Ibrahim Mabrouk as part of a decades-long battle to find justice for the slain police officer. Lawyers for John Murray, 66, argued that while Mabrouk did not fire any shots, he was “instrumental” in the plan to use violence during the antigovernment protest.
Following a three-day trial, High Court Justice Martin Spencer ruled there was enough evidence to support that Mabrouk was an “active participant” in the decision to respond to the anti-Gadhafi protest by shooting at the demonstrators.
The judge added that there seemed to be “little doubt” that the actions of the gunmen were “orchestrated and sanctioned” by Gadhafi, who “could not tolerate dissent or disagreement.” The Libyan leader was deposed during a 2011 revolt and killed several months later.
Mabrouk, who did not take part in the London court proceedings, previously denied involvement in Fletcher’s death.
Murray’s lawyers told the High Court Mabrouk was a member of the pro-Gadhafi Libyan Revolutionary Committee that controlled the embassy building at the time.
Mabrouk was arrested in 2015 in connection with Fletcher’s death, but London’s Metropolitan Police force said in 2017 that charges could not be brought because key evidence had been kept secret on national security grounds.
He was barred from the U.K. in 2019 over his suspected involvement in war crimes, and is believed tobe in Libya.
The audience in the packed courtroom applauded the judge’s ruling, and Murray looked emotional as the judgment was read out loud.
“This has been a battle lasting 37 years. It is a huge weight off my shoulders,” he said in a statement. “We have faced many obstacles to get here. Today, we have finally achieved justice for Yvonne.”