The murder of Jean Charles de Menezes

Metropolitan Police guilty

A jury has found the Metropolitan Police guilty of breaking Health and Safety laws over the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes on a London tube train on 22 July 2005. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to ensure the safety of non-employees. Jean Charles was shot in the head seven times at point-blank range.

This trial was designed to prevent, yet again, any individual officer being held accountable for the execution of an innocent man. It does, however, expose the contradiction at the centre of the government’s so-called ‘war on terror’ in which it claims it needs to curtail civil liberties in order to protect innocent lives.

In this trial there was no evidence from the two officers who shot Jean Charles, nor any of the 17 civilian witnesses to the shooting. All of those civilian witnesses’ evidence would have contradicted the eight police witnesses who said that the cops challenged Jean Charles by shouting ‘armed police’.

The court heard from a forensic witness that the police had doctored evidence, namely two photographs, one of Jean Charles and the other of terrorist suspect Hussain Osman, by lightening skin tone and elongating heads to make them look alike. Yet no-one is being charged with perverting the course of justice. It later emerged that Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair had illegally delayed the Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry which resulted in a loss of evidence, most particularly CCTV film of the shooting.

The Met as a ‘corporation’ has been fined £175,000, plus £385,000 costs, which will be paid for by the tax-payer. The police have been backed by Labour politicians, including London Mayor ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone, who complained that the verdict will make it harder for the police to protect the capital against terrorism.

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes have consistently called for a public inquiry. According to a statement from their solicitors, they will now sue the police and take them to the European Court of Human Rights. The inquest into the death of Jean Charles will re-open in the spring.

Jim Wills

FRFI 200 December 2007 / January 2008


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