‘WE WILL NOT STOP FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE’ says Jean Charles de Menezes family campaign

The platform at Monday’s night’s rally in Conway Hall
The platform at Monday’s night’s rally in Conway Hall

THE Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign has vowed to continue fighting until they get justice over the police killing of the Brazilian man two years ago at Stockwell tube.

A packed public meeting at Conway Hall in central London on Monday night – two years and a day after he was held down and shot through the head – heard speakers from the Justice4Jean campaign, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, as well as cousins of Jean Charles and lawyers for his family.

Chairwoman Yasmin Khan said that Jean Charles was not only brutally killed by the police, but that in the immediate aftermath police officers, ‘including Ian Blair’, went about putting false information into the public domain, which was later ‘revealed to be a cover-up’.

Among the lies that were told were that Jean Charles had been wearing a bulky jacket, had jumped the barriers, was acting suspiciously and had run from police.

She said that since then, his family has had to go through a ‘very frustrating and painful process’ in their fight for justice for Jean.

Vivian Figuereido, a cousin of Jean Charles, was introduced to the meeting.

She thanked everyone who had attended the rally and said: ‘Jean has become a very well-known person in the media but I’d like to speak about the person who he was. . .

‘He travelled to Sao Paulo in Brazil and then he came to London.

‘He wanted to grow as a person and achieve his goals. He loved London. It was amazing how he learned English very fast.’

She added: ‘Jean had very strong family values. Every year he went back to Brazil to see his family.

‘Last time he returned to his home town it was amazing because he made time to see everybody and went to other parts of Brazil to visit family members.

‘I wanted to come to London to try to live in another place, try new things and meet different people and Jean was the person who gave me the strength to do it.

‘When I came here I admired Jean more because he was always struggling, always willing to help with everything and always giving advice.

‘I could never imagine after three months since I arrived here that Scotland Yard, which has a reputation around the world as one of the finest police forces – shot Jean dead.’

She added: ‘It’s been two years and that’s about 700 days and that’s more than a reasonable amount of time to get the answers we’ve been asking for, for the last two years.

‘I’d like to say they won’t make us give up – we’ll keep fighting for these answers.’

Lawyer Harriet Wistrich said that from the beginning the police had attempted to block the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) ‘out of the process’, on the grounds that the investigation into Jean Charles’ death was part of a ‘terrorism investigation’ into the events the day before, on July 21, 2005.

‘They came in five days later and that’s pretty crucial.’

She said it was well known that, ‘The first hour is the key moment when there’s been a murder.’

‘Where was the CCTV video evidence?’ she asked, adding: ‘There’s a really, really strong sense of suspicion about crucial evidence missing from this inquiry.

‘They kept the family informed to some extent, but at no stage were they given access to the IPCC report or any of the evidence they gathered.

‘Until you see evidence for yourself, it’s very difficult to tell what there is there.

‘The IPCC passed their report on to the Crown Prosecution Service who had to decide on criminal charges: would any officer be charged with murder or manslaughter?’

She said there were many questions to answer, such as had the police surveillance log been altered, with the ‘question of perverting the course of justice arriving from that’.

Wistrich said that the attitude of the CPS to Jean Charles’ family was even ‘more disappointing’ than the attitude of the IPCC.

She said there was ‘shock and surprise’ when it was announced that no one was to be charged with any criminal offence, and that only the office of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service was to be prosecuted, under Section 3 of the Health and Safety Act in October this year.

She added: ‘We hope very much there will be an inquest, but we may have a battle on our hands to insist it takes place.’

Finally, Harriet Wistrich said Jean Charles’ relatives were fighting attempts to force them back to Brazil.

She said three of his cousins had been nominated by the family to stay in Britain ‘to be present and ask questions’.

‘They can’t do that from a remote village in Brazil,’ she said.

She urged everyone to contact their MPs and the Home Office ‘to say it would be an outrage if they were forced to leave the country before this legal process was completed.’

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said the authority had been established to ‘scrutinise and hold to account’ the police force and make sure it was operating ‘in the best interests of society’.

‘This is clearly not operating in the best interests of society or their own,’ she told the rally.

‘It is blot on the history of the Metropolitan Police Service. They will never ever be able to remove it.’

She urged everyone in ‘the next few weeks and months’ to make sure that the demand for an inquest is continually raised and to write letters of support for the right of Jean Charles’ relatives and friends to stay in Britain while the campaign is still continuing.

Gareth Pierce, a leading human rights lawyer, said the issue of Jean Charles’ death ‘is the most fundamental violation of the most fundamental right, the right to life.’

She added: ‘Jean Charles’ right to life was violated but still is continuing to be violated, day by day by day, as this sorry business continues.’

She condemned the ‘mockery’ of a trial with no one in the dock, speaking about the health and safety prosecution of the office of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

She said: ‘The family deserve a proper investigative hearing and resolution guaranteed to them as a fundamental right in this society.’

She concluded: ‘De Menezes is a synonym for police avoidance of the law and legal restraint, just like Forest Gate.

‘Our day will come. We will have an inquest and it may still be another year away but the cousins will be there. They have enormous strength and stamina.’

Jean Charles’ cousin Patricia da Silva Armani said: ‘We need everybody’s help in this case. . .

‘I think the problem can’t be looked at as a problem of health and safety.

‘It is shameful they hide behind this law that has nothing to do with what happened on the morning of July 22, 2005.

‘That’s why we want and demand justice above everything else.

‘We want those responsible to be punished.’

Asad Rehman, from the Justice4Jean campaign, and chair of the Newham Monitoring Project, said: ‘For six days the Metropolitan Police prevented the IPCC taking control of the investigation.’

He added: ‘We thought they’ll at least suspend all the officers’ while a prosecution is taking place.

But not even a single officer had been suspended.