Family of Brazilian shot dead by UK police take case to European court

Henrietta Hill (L) and Hugh Southey, lawyers of Patricia Armani Da Silva, wait for the start of a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, June 10, 2015. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

LONDON: The family of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician shot dead 10 years ago by London police who thought he was a suicide bomber, will launch a bid at a European Court on Wednesday to demand the officers involved face criminal action.

De Menezes was shot seven times in the head by specialist firearms officers as he boarded an underground train at Stockwell station in south London on July 22, 2005.

The shooting came the day after four Islamists had unsuccessfully tried to bomb the British capital's transport network and police wrongly thought he was Hussein Osman, one of the militants.

British security services were on a high state of alert anyway as two weeks earlier four young British Muslims had killed 52 people and themselves in bombings on three underground trains and a bus in the most deadly peacetime attack in Britain.

"For 10 years our family has been campaigning for justice for Jean because we believe that police officers should have been held to account for his killing," Patricia Armani Da Silva, de Menezes's cousin, said in a statement.

"Jean's death is a pain that never goes away for us."

Despite repeated demands from the family that the officers involved or their superiors should be charged, prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to take action against any individuals.

In 2007, the Metropolitan Police as an organization was found guilty of breaching health and safety laws and fined 175,000 pounds ($270,130), after the court heard it had made "shocking and catastrophic" blunders.

A jury at an inquest the following year delivered an open verdict, ruling that it was not a "lawful killing," although the coroner had said the death could not be regarded as murder or manslaughter.

The inquest heard there had been communication mistakes and confusion among surveillance officers which led them to the mistaken identification of de Menezes, who happened to live in the same apartment block as Osman.

The jury at the inquest also ruled that armed police who shot him had not shouted warnings beforehand as they themselves had claimed.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the family will argue at the European Court of Human Rights that British prosecutors were wrong not to charge any individuals, and that the health and safety offense was an inadequate punishment.

The police have always maintained that they were under extraordinary pressure at the time, with four would-be bombers who had tried to commit mass murder on the run, and that officers who shot De Menezes had feared for their own lives and for those of other passengers on the train.





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