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Saturday, 10 November 2007
POLICE MUST BE HELD TO ACCOUNT – insist de Menezes family
The family of Jean Charles de Menezes on Thursday demanded action be taken to hold individual police officers to account for the killing of an innocent man following the publication of the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s (IPCC’s) Stockwell 1 report.
|Patricia da Silva Armani (centre) addressing Thursday’s press conference by the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, with Vivian Figueiredo (right) – both cousins of Jean Charles
In a statement they said: ‘The report sheds more light on the botched police operation on the 22 July 2005 and contains significant new material about the shooting of Jean including contradictions between the evidence given by passengers – who heard no warning being given to Jean, and the firearms officers – who all stated warnings were given before shooting.’
Vivian Figueiredo, cousin of Jean told reporters: ‘It has been an emotional and difficult report for us to read especially the sections that described the police officers who shot Jean being covered in his blood.
‘It reminds us of how our loved one came to die, in such a brutal and violent way.
‘Although we welcome the report we sadly are no closer to getting justice.
‘We now have two very long reports and a criminal trial where the jury found the police guilty but still no-one has been held responsible for shooting Jean seven times in the head and then lying to us and the public about it.
‘We demand action be taken to hold police officers to account and will not draw a line under this issue until that has been achieved.
‘In Jean’s innocent name we will fight on for justice.
‘On the issue of (Met Commissioner) Ian Blair, we maintain that his position is untenable.
‘But whether he goes or not does not deflect from the issues of why Jean was killed, why he was shot seven times in the head, why a shoot-to-kill policy was used and why the police did everything they could to cover up their crime.
‘We now want the Ministry of Justice to promise us a wide reaching inquest as soon as possible and to allow us to examine all the issues surrounding Jean’s death – including the shoot-to-kill policy.’
Harriet Wistrich, the de Menezes family solicitor said: ‘The publication of the IPCC report is only the beginning of the process for the family.
‘They have until now remained as observers, along with the public at large, reacting to the decisions of other bodies and media revelations.
‘For the first time they are in possession of a report on the evidence found by the investigating team.
‘Soon they will have an opportunity to see all the evidence collected, make their own enquiries and interrogate that evidence through inquest proceedings.
‘The family remain determined to uncover the whole truth surrounding the tragic shooting and, where the evidence allows, to hold those officers responsible for wrongdoing individually accountable.
‘It is only through this process that all the necessary lessons can be learnt so that such a tragic outcome will never be repeated.’
A spokeswoman for the Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign said: ‘The IPCC report, whilst containing useful information, is only meaningful if it leads to concrete action.
‘It is highly insulting for the family to hear the comments coming out of Scotland Yard today suggesting it is time for them to move on when an inquest into Jean’s death has not even taken place.
‘The only time to move on will be after justice is done.
‘With the conclusion of the health and safety prosecution and both IPCC reports now published, we believe now is the time for a wider debate and proper parliamentary scrutiny about the shoot to kill policy, as recommended in the Stockwell 1 report today.’
Commenting separately, human rights organisation Liberty accused the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) of delaying justice by publishing its report 28 months after the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in July 2005.
Liberty said that the report should have been published immediately when the Crown Prosecution Service determined that no individuals would be tried in the case, and questioned whether the IPCC had handled the case robustly.
Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti said: ‘Through its hesitation, the IPCC has unnecessarily delayed justice for 28 months.
‘The IPCC report may help prevent future tragedies, but has done little to achieve trust and confidence in policing or the IPCC itself.’
Liberty called for Parliamentary scrutiny of the ‘Operation Kratos’ firearms policy and related matters, and stressed that the finding that Met Police chief Ian Blair hindered the IPCC investigation should provide the last word on his ability to retain the confidence of Londoners and the officers bound to protect them.
Going back over the chain of events, Liberty said:
‘1 November 2007 – The Metropolitan Police is fined £175,000 and ordered to pay £385,000 costs after being convicted of breaching health and safety legislation.
‘1 October 2007 – The trial of the Office of the Commissioner on health and safety charges begins at the Old Bailey.
The Metropolitan Police are accused of a ‘catastrophic’ series of failures leading up to the death of Mr de Menezes.
‘2 August 2007 – The IPCC Stockwell Two report finds ‘serious weaknesses’ in how the Metropolitan Police handled critical information following the shooting.
‘11 May 2007 – The IPCC stated that 11 of 15 officers named in the investigation will be cleared of any disciplinary offences, but action in regard to the four remaining senior officers will be delayed until the Scotland Yard trial brought by the Crown Prosecution Service under heath and safety laws over the death of Mr de Menezes is completed.
‘17 July 2006 – The CPS announces it is to prosecute the Metropolitan Police under health and safety laws. No individual police officers are charged.
‘27 July 2005 – The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) begins its investigation into the shooting.
‘25 July 2005 – An inquest into the death of Mr de Menezes is opened at Southwark Coroner’s Court.
‘22 July 2005 – Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian electrician, is mistaken for a terror suspect and shot seven times by firearms officers at Stockwell Tube station in London.
‘Liberty’s Public Statement following the shooting of de Menezes on 22 July 2005 reads:
‘Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (part of our Human Rights Act) protects the right to life and places onerous obligations on the State to protect the lives of all us.
‘This principle places tight limitations on the use of deliberate and lethal force.
‘Such action is the gravest of steps in a democracy. It can only ever be justified where “absolutely necessary”; where there is no other way of effectively protecting the lives of others.
‘Even in the context of a suspected suicide bomber, Article 2 requires that everything possible is done to avoid a moment where lethal force is the only viable means of preventing the suspect from detonating a device and bringing injury and death to others.
‘However, there may be situations where lethal force is the only means of protecting huge loss of life.
‘It is important to draw a distinction between accepting that such action might be justified and the need to scrutinise any policy that allows for an innocent man to be shot in the head eight times.
‘Whenever someone dies at the hands of the State, there must be a fully independent and comprehensive Inquiry.
‘This applies whether the person concerned was innocent, reasonably suspected or even guilty of criminality.’
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