Azara Blog: Jury finds police lied over de Menezes killing

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Date published: 2008/12/13

The BBC says:

The jury has returned an open verdict at the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, whom police mistook for a suicide bomber.

It rejected the police account Mr de Menezes was killed lawfully by two officers who shot him seven times at Stockwell Tube in south London.

His mother, Maria Otone de Menezes, said she was very happy and felt "reborn" after hearing the verdict.

The Metropolitan Police said the Brazilian's death was a tragic mistake.

After the verdict was announced the de Menezes family lawyer said officers should be investigated for perjury - a call immediately rejected by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The inquest jury was given the choice of two possible verdicts, but chose to reject the option that Mr Menezes was killed lawfully by the police.

Earlier in the inquest the jury was instructed not to return a verdict of unlawful killing.

The 10 jury members were asked 12 specific questions about whether or not a series of events on 22 July 2005 contributed to the 27-year-old's death.

After a week of deliberations, a majority of eight to two returned an open verdict and said they did not believe officers had shouted "armed police" before opening fire.

They said they believed Mr de Menezes had stood up from his seat before being shot. However they did not believe he had moved towards the first officer who opened fire.

They also rejected that Mr de Menezes' innocent behaviour had increased suspicions.

This is as damning a verdict of the police action as could have been delivered, given the outrageous decision of the judge not to allow a verdict of unlawful killing. Although it's easy to see how this murder came about by mistake, it is a sad state of affairs that officers who have the right to kill people first and ask questions later have been found to be such blatant liars. Of course this "shoot first ask questions later" policy is one of the many dreadful things brought in by the Tony Blair administration. It is based on the so-called precautionary principle (so if something very bad can happen, then we should not take chances). Once again, this so-called principle has been shown to be seriously lacking any kind of moral authority. It's used by people who don't have a real argument for something, but just want to scare people. (And indeed, other than Blair and Bush, the biggest users of the precautionary principle are so-called environmentalists, who continually quote this so-called principle for much the same reasons.)

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