Shoot-to-kill cover-up

One year after the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell tube station, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that it will not press charges against any police officer for the shooting. Their excuse is that the officers involved reasonably believed that de Menezes was a suicide bomber who was about to explode a bomb on the tube. The CPS decision is not aimed at delivering justice for the de Menezes family, but at hiding the truth about the police shoot-to-kill policy and the events of 22 July 2005. This cover-up follows the police raid in Forest Gate, east London, in June 2006 when 250 police officers, armed and rigged in anti-chemical warfare suits, broke into two houses, terrorising the occupants and shooting one man in the shoulder. This raid was also based on false intelligence and once again, confirmed the British state’s commitment to shoot-to-kill and terrorising communities.

Apart from being an insult to the de Menezes family, the CPS decision not to prosecute individual officers but to pursue action under Health and Safety laws against the Metropolitan Police as a whole, will have the effect of hiding the results of the IPCC investigation and the details of how de Menezes died, for at least another year. Whilst the Health and Safety prosecution might result in an unlimited fine, it is akin to charging Jack the Ripper with littering, and is a lot less likely to succeed.

We should remind ourselves now that the immediate response of the police, the Labour Government and the press, in the days after the killing, was to cover up their guilt. Jean Charles de Menezes was tracked by police from his home in Tulse Hill to Stockwell tube station, several miles away. He was followed into the station by an armed squad of undercover police who pushed him to the ground as he entered the train and then pumped seven bullets into his brain and one into his shoulder in front of a carriage full of terrified passengers.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, immediately issued a statement claiming that the shooting was ‘directly linked’ to the ongoing anti-terrorist investigations. On the following day the Met admitted that de Menezes was innocent, but began the cover-up process by suggesting that his behaviour had been suspicious: he had ‘bolted down the escalator’, ‘leapt over the barriers’ and that he was wearing ‘a chunky top’, ‘a fleece’, ‘unseasonal clothing’ – all of which could have ‘concealed a bomb’. All of this was a deliberate lie: de Menezes was wearing a t-shirt and denim jacket, used a travel card and did not leap the barrier or bolt down the escalator. More crude attempts to vilify the victim began to appear in the press: he was working illegally and had ‘a forged stamp’ in his passport. Commissioner Blair attempted, completely illegally, to prevent the IPCC investigation by blocking their access to the tube station and to the witnesses. Emissaries from the Met visited Brazil to offer a pitiful sum in compensation to the family. The Met had a lot to hide.

Two brothers, Mohammed Abdul Kahar and Abul Loyair, and their families were the innocent victims of the Forest Gate raid on 2 June this year. Mr Kahar was shot in the shoulder when armed police raided their home and that of their neighbours. In both houses the shocked inhabitants met with violence and abuse. The police claimed that the raids were the result of ‘specific intelligence’. Mr Kahar and Mr Loyair were detained for two weeks for questioning while their home was literally taken apart. In the end Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman was forced to apologise to the families and their neighbours for the disruption caused. This apology did not prevent the police from leaking false information to the press about a large sum of money kept on the premises, suggesting that it was being used for criminal purposes.

Each time the Metropolitan Police murder, maim and terrify innocent people, the Labour Government and their hired press jump to the defence of the police, claiming that this is a ‘small price to pay in the war against terror’. This is a lie. Prime Minister Blair has told the Muslim community that it is their job to fight extremism within their communities, meanwhile as henchmen for the Bush regime, his government is backing terror to the hilt: Israel’s barbaric raids in Lebanon and Gaza, the disastrous war on the Iraqi and Afghan people, let alone the systematic despoliation of Africa. If the price to be paid in the war against terror is the death of innocent people and terrifying men, women and children in their homes, then it is the oppressed, both in Britain and across the globe, who are being asked to pay it – and the price is too high.
Carol Brickley

FRFI 192 August /September 2006


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