The chairman of a police watchdog body said yesterday that a Brazilian man killed by armed officers two years ago because he was mistaken for a suicide bomber had done nothing out of the ordinary to arouse suspicion.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)'s report on the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, released yesterday, made 16 recommendations for changes in policy and procedure to prevent a repetition of the incident on July 22, 2005.
London's Metropolitan Police were convicted a week ago of violating health and safety regulations by placing the public in danger in the anti-terrorist operation that led to the shooting. During the trial, a lawyer for the police suggested that de Menezes had behaved suspiciously, and it was suggested he may have been a drug user.
Harriet Wristrich, a lawyer for de Menezes' family, said the family might try to take their concerns to the European Court of Human Rights over "fundamental issues" about the accountability of police officers who kill people.
"The family remain determined to uncover the whole truth surrounding the tragic shooting and, where evidence allows, hold those officers individually accountable," Wristrich said.
Nick Hardwick, chairman of the IPCC, said there must be no attempt to blame de Menezes for his fate.
"He did nothing out of the ordinary. He hurried down the final few steps of the escalator when he heard a train was already on the platform. And like other passengers he got to his feet when police officers burst on to the train," Hardwick said.
"These actions may have been misinterpreted by police officers hunting a suicide bomber, but they were entirely innocent."
Police have said de Menezes was mistaken for Hussain Osman, who was subsequently convicted of being one of the would-be suicide bombers who had attacked London's transport system the day before the Brazilian was killed.
"I am satisfied that the death of Jean Charles de Menezes has been a catalyst for significant improvements in the way in which the police deal with the threat of suicide terrorism," Hardwick also said.
"Those improvements make it less likely that there will be other innocent victims of police shootings but ... much more likely that the police will be able to respond effectively to an actual terrorist threat. London and Londoners should be safer as a result. It should not have taken the death of an innocent man to achieve that."
The publication of the report had been delayed until the completion of the trial of the Metropolitan Police for health and safety violations. The police chief, Sir Ian Blair, said the department had seen the IPCC report 20 months ago and had implemented many of the recommendations.
Following the conviction of the police department last week, leaders of opposition parties reacted to the verdict by calling for Blair to resign as commissioner of Metropolitan Police, but he refused and has been supported by Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government.
Source: China Daily/Agencies