By Ian Drury
Key suspect in the 1984 murder of PC Yvonne Fletcher is put in charge of tackling illegal immigration in Libya by the country’s UN-backed government.
BG Abdelgader Tuhami is made chief of the Illegal Immigration Fight Center. Firearms expert was privately named as the chief suspect in PC Fletcher’s killing. He is suspected of firing into a crowd of anti-Gaddafi demonstrators. PC Fletcher died of a stomach wound and was one of 11 people who were shot
Brigadier General Abdelgader Tuhami, a firearms expert who was in the Libyan Embassy at the time of killing, is alleged to have been trained as an assassin by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
He had been privately named by detectives as a chief suspect in the slaying of 25-year-old PC Fletcher on April 17, 1984.
He was yesterday named as the man in charge of tackling illegal migrants in Libya’s UN supported Government. The north African nation is being used as a springboard by thousands of people seeking to reach Europe.
Human trafficking gangs have set up on the coast to try to smuggle desperate migrants across the Mediterrenean. Libya has also been named as a jihadist ‘hotspot’ – with Islamic State fighters flocking into the country.
General Tuhami became chief of the Illegal Immigration Fight Center (IIFC) which was formed last year in Tripoli, according to the English language news website Libya Observer.
He was appointed in his new role by Fathi Al-Mijibri, a member of the UN-backed Government of National Accord’s Presidential Council.
But 33 years ago, he was a notorious officer in the Gaddafi regime’s Foreign Security Department.
Scotland Yard’s counter terrorism command, which has been investigating PC Fletcher’s murder – one of the darkest days in British policing – suspect intelligence officer Tuhami fired the shots.
He was part of the embassy’s security team at the time of the shooting and described as ‘an expert in using weapons’.
PC Fletcher was gunned down as she helped to police a peaceful protest of Libyan exiles outside the embassy in St James’s Square, Central London. At the time the embassy was run by Gaddafi loyalist students.
The shooting led to an 11-day siege of the embassy by armed police which eventually ende when staff were allowed to leave and were expelled from Britain
A number of sub-machine gunshots were fired from the embassy’s first floor towards the demonstrators. Eleven people were hit and WPC Fletcher died soon afterwards of a stomach wound.
The Libyan government finally accepted in 1999 that it was responsible for the murder, with Colonel Gaddafi agreeing to pay the Fletcher family compensation
The shooting led to an 11-day siege of the embassy by armed police. It was eventually ended when the staff were allowed to leave and were expelled from Britain, which severed diplomatic relations with Libya.
It was not until 1999 that the Libyan government publicly accepted ‘general responsibility’ for the murder. Gaddafi agreed to pay compensation to the Fletcher family.
In 2007, once relations between the UK and Libya had thawed, Scotland Yard detectives spent weeks in Libya interviewing witnesses and suspects.
Two years later the Crown Prosecution Service was told by an independent prosecutor that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute two Libyans, both senior regime members.
Two other men, Matouk Mohammed Matouk and Abdulgader Mohammed Baghdadi, have also been implicated as possible organisers of the murder. Baghdadi was reportedly shot dead in 2011 and Matouk’s whereabouts is unknown.
In November 2015, Scotland Yard said a man in his fifties, a key aide to former Libyan dictator Gaddafi, had been held in South-East England.
He was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder 25-year-old PC Fletcher on April 17, 1984. The man is believed to have sought asylum in Britain with his family after the downfall of Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.