Jean Charles de Menezes was shot seven times in the head Photo: PA
De Menezes ’shot for 30 seconds’ to silence him? Why?
The jury at the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes have returned a damning verdict on the police operation which led to his death as his family branded the proceedings a “whitewash”.
Telegraph | Dec 12, 2008
By Richard Edwards and Gordon Rayner
After a three-month hearing, jurors rejected the idea that the innocent Brazilian had been killed lawfully by police and returned an “open verdict”.
In answering a series of questions set by the coroner they dismissed the accounts of firearms officers who claimed they had shouted a warning before shooting Mr de Menezes.
The 27-year-old electrician was shot dead in July 2005, on a Tube train at Stockwell Underground station, after being mistaken for a suicide terrorist who had attempted to bomb the London transport network the previous day.
Jurors criticised the operation for failing to use better photographs of the suicide bomb suspect which could have helped with his identification.
They said it was a police failure that Mr de Menezes was not stopped before he reached public transport.
Other factors which led to his death included shortcomings in communications between police units on the ground, and a failure of commanders at Scotland Yard to have an accurate picture of what was happening.
The jury, which deliberated for seven days, rejected the suggestion that Mr de Menezes’s “innocent” actions had in some way increased suspicions of police.
Jurors returned an open verdict – the only option they were given after the coroner ruled they could not find that Mr de Menezes was illegally shot dead by officers.
Family members branded proceedings, which cost an estimated £6 million, a “complete whitewash”.
The Brazilian’s family released a statement that heavily criticised the coroner, Sir Michael Wright, and said that he “has not conducted a fair or impartial inquest”.
They are calling for a Parliamentary inquiry and for the Met and the Independent Police Complaints Commission to hold individuals to account.
The coroner had directed them to find an open verdict only if they rejected that the two marksmen who shot dead Mr de Menezes, “were acting in lawful defence of themselves or others” having “honestly although mistakenly” believed that he was a suicide bomber.
The verdict is unlikely to end the controversy over the death of Mr de Menezes.
His family had made their feelings known when they staged a dramatic courtroom protest on December 4 after Sir Michael had ruled out unlawful killing as a possible verdict.
Four members of the family approached the jury and unzipped their tops to reveal T-shirts bearing the slogan: “Unlawful killing – your right to decide.”
Following the protest in court, cousin Vivien Figuerdo said: “For three and a half years we have had one simple request, that all the evidence be put in front of the jury and for them to be allowed to decide.
“We have faced a system which has repeatedly blocked, silenced and stopped all the avenues we have tried in order to get justice.”
The de Menezes family’s legal team, led by Michael Mansfield QC, withdrew from the inquest in protest after Sir Michael’s ruling, and Mr Mansfield is expected to apply for a judicial review of that decision.