The FBI has closed its investigation into rapper Notorious BIG's 1997 murder, abandoning the theory that a rogue police officer may have been involved in the slaying.

LOUIS J CAPRINO JR, acting head of the criminal division of the FBI's Los Angeles office says the case was closed after federal prosecutors reviewed the evidence and concluded there was "no basis for prosecution".

Wednesday (09MAR05) marked exactly eight years since New York native BIG, real name CHRISTOPHER WALLACE, was shot to death in front of hundreds of witnesses as he left a Los Angeles party.

Investigators have pursued various theories, including one that the killing, and that of rival rap star Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas the year before, was the result of a feud between hip-hop figures from America's East and West coasts.

The FBI spent 18 months investigating the possibility that a rogue Los Angeles police officer working with rap mogul Marion 'Suge' Knight had orchestrated BIG's killing. Knight, whose Death Row Records was Shakur's label, has denied any involvement.

FBI officials abandoned the probe in January (05) after learning the lead agent pursuing it had talks with lawyers for BIG's mother VOLETTA WALLACE, who is suing the LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT for allegedly covering up police involvement in her son's slaying.

Wallace's suit, which seeks unspecified damages, is scheduled to go to trial on 12 April (05) in federal court in Los Angeles.

The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that FBI officials have told Wallace's mother FBI agent PHILIP J CARSON will not testify in her lawsuit and that Carson has been ordered to have no further discussions with the lawyers.

FBI officials say the lawsuit had nothing to do with the decision to end the investigation.

RICHARD T GARCIA, head of the agency's Los Angeles office, says, "No one at the FBI was asked or directed to stop anything. This investigation was reviewed diligently... on a regular basis and the results were submitted to the US attorney's office. They determined that the evidence was insufficient for prosecution. So we dropped it."

11/03/2005 19:23