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The killing and the cover-up
Shoot-to-kill scandal in Britain

By Nicole Colson | August 26, 2005 | Page 5

WHEN BRITISH police shot Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes 10 times on a London subway train, they claimed it was a tragic, but unavoidable, mistake.

De Menezes looked like a suicide bomber, they claimed. He was wearing a bulky, padded coat that could have hidden explosives. He was acting suspicious. He refused to stop when ordered and jumped over turnstiles to get into a subway station. He tripped and fell after boarding a train, and only then did police pump seven bullets into his head.

All lies.

According to reports in the British media, the government inquiry into de Menezes' death concluded that he was wearing a light denim jacket when he left his home. His apartment was under surveillance, but de Menezes himself wasn't properly identified as a bystander when he left because the officer monitoring the entrance was "relieving himself" at the time.

Assuming that de Menezes was a match for a terrorism suspect, British officers were instructed to not allow him to board a train. But instead of arresting the unarmed man during the more than 30 minutes that they followed him that morning, police waited for the arrival of a special armed police unit--trained in a shoot-to-kill technique perfected in Israel, that includes firing multiple rounds into a potential suspect's head.

There was never a reason for police to believe that de Menezes was a suicide bomber. Rather than racing into the subway station and hopping a turnstile--as police initially claimed--closed-circuit footage shows de Menezes calmly walking into the station, using his transit card to enter and proceeding down an escalator to the train platform.

As many as 20 officers eventually stormed into the rail station and began chasing de Menezes. Once on board a train, de Menezes had already been restrained by an officer when the rest of the armed police team arrived. He was pushed to the floor of a train and shot to death with automatic weapons.

The scandal doesn't stop there. Another media report revealed that Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote to government officials shortly after the shooting, requesting that an investigation be delayed--in the name of protecting British "terrorist operations."

British officials still refuse to retreat on the "shoot-to-kill" policy that led to de Menezes' death. "The methods that were used appeared to be the least worst option," Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair told the Daily Mail. Last week, he went further, announcing an expansion of his firearms unit to cope with the so-called "terrorist threat."

Commissioner Blair told Sunday's News of the World that he doesn't want "anti-terror investigators [to be] affected" by the uproar in Britain over de Menezes' gruesome murder. "I have told them, 'This is not your problem,'" he said. "For myself, it's a job I have to do. And I am not going to be distracted from the main job, which is finding the terrorists."

This is a slap in the face to Jean Charles de Menezes--and every other victim of Bush and Blair's "war on terror."

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