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Brazilian's shooting put public at risk: Court
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15:16, November 02, 2007

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 London police guilty over Menezes shooting case
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London's police force was found guilty yesterday of putting the public at risk over the killing of an innocent Brazilian police mistook for a suicide bomber in 2005.

Police shot electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, seven times in the head after he boarded an underground train in south London on July 22, 2005.

They had wrongly identified him as one of four men who had tried to attack the city's transport system a day earlier.

The capital's Metropolitan Police were fined 175,000 pounds ($364,000) and ordered to pay legal costs of 385,000 pounds after being convicted of the single charge of breaching health and safety rules which require it to protect the public.

Prosecutors had accused the force of a "shocking and catastrophic error" during the trial at London's Old Bailey Central Criminal Court, in an unusual use of workplace health and safety laws against a police force.

No individual police officers have been punished over the shooting. The Crown Prosecution Service decided last year there was insufficient evidence to charge any individuals with crimes, a decision which the de Menezes family criticised.

The electrician was killed during a manhunt a day after would-be suicide bombers had escaped after their bombs failed to detonate on London transport. The failed attacks were a copy of suicide bombings that had killed 52 commuters two weeks before.

The police said that their fast-moving operation to catch the bombers had gone wrong, but that they broke no laws.

Prosecutors said the police had criminally endangered the public, first by allowing a man they believed was a bomber to board an underground train, then by shooting him seven times in the head at point blank range.

In a rider to the verdict, the jury cleared the officer in charge of the operation which led to the shooting, Cressida Dick, of personal responsibility.

Critics of the prosecution have said there was little point in forcing the taxpayer-funded police force to pay fines back to the treasury. The trial itself cost millions of dollars.

De Menezes lived in the same block of flats as one of the failed bombers, Hussein Osman. Surveillance officers monitoring the building followed de Menezes on two bus rides without stopping him before reaching the underground train station.

Specialist firearms officers were rushed to the station after a four-hour delay when senior officers wrongly became convinced de Menezes was Osman.

"It was the result of fundamental failures to carry out a planned operation in a safe and reasonable way," prosecutor Clare Montgomery told the court.

During the trial, police were accused of modifying pictures of de Menezes and Osman to make them look more alike.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

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