THE FAMILY of Jean Charles de Menezes yesterday vowed to continue their struggle for justice, and while denouncing the conduct of the coroner at the inquest into his death as a ‘whitewash’, said they very much appreciated the ruling of the jury.
Although the jury was denied the option of finding that the killing of Jean Charles was unlawful, it did find that the police lied on at least two occasions.
It found unanimously that no ‘armed police’ warning was shouted before Jean Charles was executed.
It also found that Jean Charles did not advance towards the armed police.
This was despite the fact that one police officer said this was what convinced him to open fire.
Jean Charles de Menezes was shot seven times in the head by undercover armed police at Stockwell tube station on July 22, 2005.
Given only two choices of an ‘open’ or ‘lawful killing’ verdict, the inquest jury yesterday opted for an open verdict.
The mother of Jean Charles, Maria Otone de Menezes, said in a message yesterday: ‘I’m very happy with the verdict today.’
She expressed her family’s gratitude to the jury ‘and everybody who has supported us through this so difficult time’.
She added: ‘Since the moment the coroner ruled out the option of an unlawful killing verdict, I was feeling very sad, but today I feel as if I have been reborn.’
In a special statement, the family of Jean Charles de Menezes also insisted: ‘Today is a very important day for our family and campaign for justice.
‘We have spoken to Jean’s family in Brazil and they like us feel vindicated by the jury’s verdict.
‘The jury’s verdict is a damning indictment of the multiple failures of the police and the lies they told.
‘It is clear from the verdict today that the jury could have gone further had they not been gagged by the Coroner.’
‘We maintain that Jean Charles de Menezes was unlawfully killed,’ said Patricia Armani Da Silva, cousin of Jean Charles.
The family’s legal team argued that evidence heard by the jury ‘provided sufficient grounds for the jury to return unlawful killing (murder) in respect of the two police shooters, C12 and C2, as well unlawful killing (gross negligence manslaughter) in respect of the actions of three of the command team.’
Yesterday’s statement from Jean Charles’ family and their legal team added: ‘We also submitted that, in accordance with Article 2 (European Convention on Human Rights) the jury should be permitted to return a meaningful narrative verdict that could identify all the police failings that caused or contributed to the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.’
Jean Charles’ family and their legal team said that: ‘The five legal teams representing supposedly separate interests of the police combined ranks to oppose our submissions.’
Protesting at the coroner’s decision to only allow a lawful killing or open verdict, they added: ‘The coroner ruled in favour of the police. As a consequence the family sought to challenge the decision, lodging an urgent application at the High Court.
‘Mr Justice Silber considered the challenge in relation to the narrative verdict only but ruled that the coroner had a wide discretion and he would not interfere with his ruling.
‘The family considered that the coroner had effectively gagged the jury.’
• See feature in Monday’s News Line.