19/08/2005

Menezes family calls for Met police chief to resign

The family of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes have called for Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair to resign over the wrongful shooting and for the officers involved to be prosecuted.

Alessandro Pereira, Mr de Menezes’ cousin, told a press conference on Friday: “For three weeks we’ve listened to lie after lie about Jean and how he was killed.

“I want Ian Blair to think how it was to phone our family in Brazil and tell them that their son was dead. That he was killed in such a way.

“I want Ian Blair to imagine how we felt having to listen to the lies about Jean, about why he died, to see Ian Blair on television telling those lies. The police knew Jean was innocent and yet they let my family suffer, Ian Blair let us suffer.”

Yasmin Khan, from the Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign described the Metropolitan police as a “Laurel and Hardy operation”. She said there were three issues to consider in the case – the ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy, police incompetence and allegations of an attempted cover-up by Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police and government officials.

Mr de Menezes, 27, was shot dead on a Tube train in Stockwell Station on July 22, the day after four failed bomb attacks on the London transport network and two weeks after four suicide bombers killed 52 people in a series of similar attacks.

Mr de Menezes was alleged to have been wearing a heavy padded jacket and was said to have run from police, jumping over ticket barriers, before finally being shot by officers who suspected him of being a potential suicide bomber.

However, information leaked to ITV News, purported to be from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), indicated that the events surrounding Mr de Menezes might have been substantially different from what was initially reported. The leaked document suggested that the Brazilian was not wearing a padded jacket and walked through the Tube station before he was shot.

On Thursday, the IPCC released a statement stating that the Metropolitan Police had attempted to halt an IPCC investigation into the shooting.

Sir Ian Blair has resisted calls to resign and denied that the investigation into the shooting was intentionally delayed. He said that any delay was due to the anti-terror investigation that was ongoing after the London bomb attacks.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard, Sir Ian also stressed that the certain factors of the case, such as the reports that Mr de Menezes was wearing a padded jacket and had jumped over ticket barriers, had never been said or confirmed by the Metropolitan Police.

Len Duvall, Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority said: “Mr de Menezes was a wholly innocent victim caught up in the terrible events of 7 and 21 July when suicide bombers struck at the heart of our capital for the very first time.

“That a young man in the prime of life should have that life cut short through no fault of his own is not only of huge regret but also for his family and friends, unbearable and wholly incomprehensible.

“The Metropolitan Police Authority will do everything in its power to ensure that whatever the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Mr de Menezes, the full facts and truth will be made known.”

However, Mr Duvall added: “We must not forget that on 22 July London was on high alert following the 7 July bombings and the 21 July attempted bombings and all those involved were faced with life and death decisions that had to be taken within seconds of unfolding events. London is facing a potential threat to the safety of its inhabitants on a scale that is unprecedented in our history. This means calculated risks have to be taken, often by necessity in haste, and mistakes are therefore likely.”

On Thursday, lawyers acting on behalf of Mr de Menezes family branded the investigation into the shooting a “chaotic mess” and called for a public inquiry.

It was announced on Friday that Brazil would conduct its own independent review into the shooting. Two Brazilian officials are due to come to London next week in order to meet with the IPCC and senior police officers.

The Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign announced that a demonstration would be held at Downing Street one month to the day of the shooting. The vigil will be held at 6pm at Downing Street on August 22.

(KMcA/SP)

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