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Pressure on London police grows over dead Brazilian

Reuters | August 17, 2005
By Michael Holden

LONDON - London's police chief faced acute embarrassment on Wednesday after a leaked report revealed how a series of blunders led to a Brazilian man being shot dead by officers who wrongly thought he was a suicide bomber.

Jean Charles de Menezes was shot eight times by police on an underground train on July 22, the day after four would-be bombers failed in attacks on London's transport system.

A campaign group supporting de Menezes' family said the killing now resembled a "judicial execution" and called for the police's "shoot-to-kill" policy to be suspended.

"The police's version has not only been shown to be incorrect but the public were deliberately misled. It's evident we have been told lies and half-truths about how Jean died," Asad Rehman, a spokesman for the group, told Reuters.

Initial reports said the Brazilian electrician was dressed suspiciously, had fled armed officers, vaulted over ticket barriers and run onto a train.

But leaked documents obtained by ITV News said CCTV footage and eyewitness accounts showed he was not wearing a padded jacket which could have concealed a bomb, and walked calmly through the station, even stopping to collect a free newspaper.

According to witnesses and statements made by police officers involved, de Menezes then boarded a train and was restrained by a surveillance officer before he was shot.

The leaked report said the intelligence operation may have been botched because an officer carrying out surveillance had gone to the toilet when de Menezes left the building.

London's Metropolitan police commissioner Ian Blair at first said the shooting was linked to the failed attacks on July 21, which came exactly two weeks after four suicide bombers killed 52 people on three underground trains and a bus.

He said de Menezes had been challenged by officers and had refused to obey police instructions. He later apologized for the death.

"There must be serious questions raised about Ian Blair's position," campaigner Rehman added.

Former London police commander John O'Connor said the revelations were "catastrophic" for Blair and would put his job under pressure.

"Whoever has leaked this report has caused him a great deal of embarrassment," he told BBC TV.

Police and the Home Office (interior ministry) have declined to comment on the ITV report until the Independent Police Complaints Commission completes a full investigation.

But campaigners said there should now be a full public inquiry to clear up whether CCTV footage had captured his final moments on film, or why cameras were not working as media reports have suggested.


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