August 18, 2005

Lawyer for Brazilian urges UK police chief to quit

By Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - Lawyers representing the family of a
Brazilian man killed by police after he was mistaken for a
suicide bomber accused London's police chief on Thursday of
trying to block an official inquiry and called on him to

Jean Charles de Menezes was shot eight times by police on
an underground train on July 22, the day after four would-be
bombers failed in attacks on London's transport system.

London police chief Ian Blair at first said the shooting
was linked to the failed attacks, and that de Menezes had been
challenged but had refused to obey police instructions.

However leaked documents obtained by ITV News said police
and eyewitness accounts showed this was not the case.

Lawyer Harriet Wistrich said Blair should resign.

"Sir Ian Blair should resign. The lies that appear to have
been put out, like the statement from Sir Ian Blair, for
instance, are clearly wrong. And nobody has stepped in to
correct the lies," she said.

In a statement, Wistrich said: "Virtually the entire body
of information either placed, or allowed to remain, in the
public domain since Jean Charles de Menezes was killed ... has
been false."

Initial police reports said the Brazilian electrician was
dressed suspiciously in a heavy coat and had fled armed
officers, vaulted over ticket barriers and run onto a train.

The leaked police documents said eyewitness accounts showed
he was not wearing a padded jacket, had walked calmly through
the station and even stopped to collect a free newspaper.

Wistrich also accused Blair of delaying the inquiry, saying
he initially wrote to the Home Office asking for an internal
investigation into the killing as opposed to handing the case
over to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

A senior police source told the Guardian newspaper this was
to avoid damaging the morale of the elite firearms section.

"We did make an error, the IPCC should have been called in
immediately," the police source was quoted as saying.

Wistrich said she was skeptical of receiving a fair hearing
at a meeting on Thursday with IPCC officials.

"We have a real problem with this inquiry because of the
very serious delay ... and the misinformation, the very
misleading information, which was very hurtful to the family,"
Wistrich told BBC radio.

"We will be asking the IPCC to assure us that they are
doing everything to put right the earlier failings although
frankly we are skeptical now as to the chances of a completely
independent, thorough, transparent inquiry."