Tuesday 26 July 2005

Brazilian was shot eight times, inquest told

So, our glorious police let him get on a bus thinking he might be a suicide bomber. There are doubts about the verbal warning given, one witness reports hearing no warning. Now we find out that the pigs emptied an entire magazine into him after after pinning him to the ground. Great job guys! Super, splendid bit of police-work there! The armed bacon at the station makes me feel so much better knowing that they could shoot me for sprinting to catch my train!

Inquiry by police complaints authority to look at all ranks involved, including those who gave orders

Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian man killed by police after being mistaken for a suicide bomber, was shot eight times at Stockwell Tube station on Friday, not five times as had previously been reported.

The details of the number of rounds emptied into the 27-year-old Brazilian electrician after his pursuit through Stockwell station by an armed plainclothes squad emerged at the opening of an inquest into his death yesterday.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission also began an inquiry into the shooting yesterday.

The commission's chairman, Nick Hardwick, told the Guardian the investigation would look at "officers of all ranks", potentially including those who authorised special shoot-to-kill tactics against suicide bombers.

Mr Hardwick said: "It would be wrong to look at people [just] on the frontline, you have to look at who gave the orders and who is in the chain of command."

He added he was confident of getting access to all police documents and personnel involved.

Southwark coroner's court heard that Mr De Menezes, who arrived in Britain three years ago on a student visa, had been on the way to a job in Kilburn, north-west London, when he was challenged and pursued by armed police. He was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder.

Witnesses to the shooting last Friday spoke of hearing five shots.

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, had initially said the shooting was "directly linked" to anti-terror operations. But detectives later established he was not connected to attempts to blow up three underground trains and a bus in the capital the day before.

At a Downing Street news conference yesterday Tony Blair said he was "desperately sorry" for the death of Mr De Menezes but that police were working in very difficult circumstances.

"I think it is important that we give them every support and that we understand that had the circumstances been different and, for example, this had turned out to be a terrorist and they had failed to take that action, they would have been criticised the other way," he said.

"At the same time therefore, in expressing our sorrow and deep sympathy for the death that has happened, it is important that we allow the police and support them in doing the job they have to do in order to protect people in this country."

The prime minister's apology came amid conflicting reports on whether Mr De Menezes' student visa, which allows people to work for a small number of hours, had expired, hence his failure to stop when challenged by police. The Home Office said it was unable to comment on the claims, which were reported by the BBC yesterday and attributed to security sources. Normally, a student visa would expire within two years.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty, said she was "disgusted" by the suggestion that someone's immigration status might have any relevance to the value of their life, adding that Liberty had been at pains to reserve judgment on the Stockwell shooting pending the outcome of an independent investigation.

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