Published on Thursday, July 28, 2005 by the Guardian (UK)
Brazilian Did Not Wear Bulky Jacket
Relatives Say Met Admits That, Contrary to Reports, Electrician Did Not Leap Tube Station Barrier
by Mark Honigsbaum
Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead in the head, was not wearing a heavy jacket that might have concealed a bomb, and did not jump the ticket barrier when challenged by armed plainclothes police, his cousin said yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the Metropolitan police, Vivien Figueiredo, 22, said that the first reports of how her 27-year-old cousin had come to be killed in mistake for a suicide bomber on Friday at Stockwell tube station were wrong.
"He used a travel card," she said. "He had no bulky jacket, he was wearing a jeans jacket. But even if he was wearing a bulky jacket that wouldn't be an excuse to kill him."
Flanked by the de Menezes family's solicitor, Gareth Peirce, and by Bianca Jagger, the anti-Iraq war campaigner, she condemned the shoot-to-kill policy which had led to her cousin's death and vowed that what she called the "crime" would not go unpunished.
"My cousin was an honest and hard working person," said Ms Figueiredo who shared a flat with him in Tulse Hill, south London. "Although we are living in circumstances similar to a war, we should not be exterminating people unjustly."
Another cousin, Patricia da Silva Armani, 21, said he was in Britain legally to work and study, giving him no reason to fear the police. "An innocent man has been killed as though he was a terrorist," she said. "An incredibly grave error was committed by the British police."
Mr de Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder at 10am last Friday after being followed from Tulse Hill. Scotland Yard initially claimed he wore a bulky jacket and jumped the barrier when police identified themselves and ordered him to stop. The same day the Met commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, said the shooting was "directly linked" to the unprecedented anti-terror operation on London's streets.
The following day Sir Ian apologised when detectives established that the Brazilian electrician, on his way to a job in north-west London, was not connected to attempts to blow up three underground trains and a bus in the capital.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has began an inquiry which is expected to take several months. Yesterday it emerged one armed officer involved has been given leave, and two have been moved to non-firearm duties. Ms Figuerdo condemned Sir Ian's decision to authorise the leave, saying she wanted to see the man who shot her cousin, and he should be in jail.
The body of Mr de Menezes is being flown to Brazil tonight for a funeral tomorrow. Simultaneously, a memorial service will be held at Westminster Cathedral, with TV coverage beamed live to Brazil.
Ms Peirce condemned Sir Ian's statements on the case, saying there had been a "regrettable rush to judgment".
She was astonished that the phrase "shoot to kill" was being used as if it was a legitimate legal term; the family would demand "transparency" both as to the facts of what had happened and on the policy.
She added that the family were ready to cooperate with the complaints body, and she saw no reason for delay: "They know what their questions are and we see no reasons why they should not be answered.
© 2005 Guardian Newspapers Ltd.