Friday, September 05, 2008

Guest post on Jean Charles de Menezes campaign

Charlie went to the campaign meeting and has kindly sent me these notes on how it went :

AFTER commemorating the third anniversary of the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes with a wreath ceremony outside Parliament, family and friends of the Brazilian electrician have heard there's to be be an inquest, opening on September 22, at the Oval.

They are delighted that the case is being examined, but worried the limitations on this inquiry may obstruct their search for the whole truth, and for justice to be done.

At a meeting on Thursday evening, Yasmin Khan of the Justice4Jean campaign reminded us of the facts. On the morning of July 22, 2005, Jean Charles left his flat in south London for work. He boarded a bus, and got off at Stockwell tube station, where he stopped to pick up a newspaper, then paid by Oyster, and went down by escalator to catch his train. Seeing one already in, he ran to get on before the doors closed, and took a seat.

What Jean Charles did not know was that he had been followed from home by a special surveillance team that had been watching his block of flats for a terror suspect called Hussein Osman. One of these officers held the carriage doors open and a squad of armed officers entered. Jean Charles was restrained and then shot seven times in the head as he lay on the floor.

Immediately after the shooting a number of falsehoods were spread. It was said that the young Brazilian was wearing bulky clothing, such as an overcoat, on a Summer's day, leading officers to fear he had concealed explosives on him. (This was not long after the London bombings) In fact, he wore a thin denim jacket, as photographs show. He was supposed to have vaulted the ticket barrier and raced down the escalator to evade pursuit. But he had used an Oyster card, and only ran when he saw his train, probably anxious because he was late for work.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair told the Home Office the Independent Police Complaints Commission would not be allowed to investigate the shooting. The police claimed CCTV footage from Stockwell station or the train was not available because the cameras had not been working. London Underground said this was not so.

Yasmin said one reason for misgivings about the inquest was that the coroner had agreed that up to 50 police officers will be permitted to give their evidence behind closed doors and without identifying themselves. She agreed with a member of the audience who suggested that this was another propaganda move, to instil in the jury and public the notion that this was about "terror", and that the officers were risking danger, whereas it was we the public who needed protection.

Other questions raised in the meeting concerned the use of special bullets which were illegal, and to what extent army special forces had been involved in the killing.

Justice4Jean is hoping to give the inquest maximum publicity and attention, and urges as many people who can to attend the inquest, especially on the opening day, when firearms officers are expected to be in court.

The campaign is setting up a special blog for the inquest at Justice4Jean.