Shoot-to-kill to continue, say British police
Straw defends shooting but promises probe into Brazilian’s killing
Reuters | July 25, 2005
By KATHERINE BALDWIN
LONDON, JULY 24 British police on Sunday defended a policy of shooting to kill suspected suicide bombers after shooting dead a Brazilian electrician by mistake in the hunt for London’s bombers.
Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim said today that he had been assured there would be a full investigation into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, who had nothing to do with the investigation into the bombings .
Asked if the shooting had been a blow to the police probe,Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: “It has not been a setback...It is obviously deeply regrettable, but what we have to appreciate is the very intense pressure under which the police officers have to work,” he told BBC Radio.
‘‘I think we are quite comfortable that the policy is right, but of course these are fantastically difficult times,’’ Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair told Sky Television.
Asked if the instructions were to shoot to kill if police believed a suspect was a suicide bomber, he said: ‘‘Correct. They have to be that...It’s still happening out there, there are still officers having to make those calls as we speak...Somebody else could be shot.’’
The shooting took place under shoot-to-kill guidelines developed in recent years under the name ‘‘Operation Kratos’’ to deal with the threat of suicide bombers.
A group of Brazilians staged a vigil in pouring rain in London while Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, in London on other business, met officials at the Foreign Office. “We were shocked and perplexed by what happened,” said Amorim, adding Brazil had asked for a full explanation.
‘‘They had to kill someone to show the whole population they are working and make the country safe,’’ Alex Pereira, Menezes’ cousin, told BBC. ‘‘I ask the people to ask the Metropolitan Police and (PM) Tony Blair and everybody responsible for that: ’What kind of job are they doing?’’’
Muslim leaders fear their community will be targeted after police identified the four July 7 bombers as British Muslims. “To give licence to people to shoot to kill just like that,on the basis of suspicion, is very frightening,” said Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain.