A mourning mother welcomes the verdict but awaits 'justice'

Three and a half years ago, Maria Otone de Menezes was a farm labourer living a quiet life in the unremarkable Brazilian village of Gonzaga.

But after the death of her son, Mrs de Menezes became the mourning face of a campaign that garnered support across the world, humbled the Metropolitan Police and contributed to the downfall of the force's most senior officer.

Yesterday, the grieving mother, who before her son's death had never been to Britain and speaks no English, said she felt "reborn" after campaigners got a message of the jury's verdict to neighbours on a farm near her home in Brazil.

In a message read at a press conference hosted by the Justice4Jean campaign, she said: "I am very happy with the verdict. Since the moment the coroner ruled out unlawful killing, I was feeling very sad. But today I feel reborn."

Mr de Menezes's cousin, Patricia da Silva Armani, who has been at the centre of the campaign, said: "We have spoken to the whole family in Brazil and they, like us, are vindicated by the jury's verdict."

She said she believed the jury would have reached an unlawful killing verdict if they had not been ordered not to by the coroner. "Mistakes of the police are now clear. Action must be taken against the officers responsible."

Behind the family's rallying cries of "Justice for Jean Charles" over the past three years has been a highly sophisticated campaign run by some of the country's brightest legal minds. It began two days after the Brazilian's death when, at a vigil outside Stockwell station, Yasmin Khan, a social justice and race relations lawyer, suggested the family seek representation.

The same afternoon, Ms Khan put Mr de Menezes's cousins, Ms da Silva, Alessandro Pereira and Vivian Figueiredo, in touch with Gareth Peirce, the well-known human rights solicitor with a noted history of championing unfashionable causes. She represented the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six – both wrongly convicted as IRA bombers – during their successful appeals.

Ms Peirce instructed Michael Mansfield QC, who represented the De Menezes family during the inquest. Mr Mansfield is also known for taking on high-profile cases that question the establishment, most notably the Princess of Wales inquest. He says 95 per cent of his work comes from legal aid; the De Menezes case is one such example.

Ms Khan's fellow campaign leader is Asad Rehman, a former political advisor to George Galloway's Respect campaign and a founder of the Stop the War coalition. The pair orchestrated a campaign which operates with just 10 volunteers and has never had more than £4,000 in the bank at any one time.

But the backgrounds of those involved in the Justice4Jean campaign prompted some people to claim that the family's grief and crusade for justice had been hijacked by individuals out to further their own anti-establishment agenda.

A London Assembly member, Brian Coleman claimed the De Menezes family were being "fooled" and said he felt that those behind the campaign were "poison in the political system". Ms Khan said: "I admit we are a bunch of do-gooders, but we are people committed to getting justice for an innocent man, killed for no reason."

Perhaps the campaign's most high-profile protest came towards the end of the 12-week inquest when the coroner, Sir Michael Wright, told the jury that they would not be allowed to return a verdict of unlawful killing. The Justice4Jean campaign fought the decision in the High Court, but lost. In a protest at the legitimacy of the inquest, they then instructed their legal team to withdraw from proceedings.

Ms Khan said she was amazed at the strength and tenacity the family had shown. "Not only have they lost a loved one, but they've then been thrust into the media limelight," she added. "And their pain has then been exacerbated by hearing senior police officers say that nothing went wrong and that they'd do the same again. All they have ever wanted is for the evidence to be put in front of a jury to find the facts."

As for Mrs de Menezes, she has remained in Brazil throughout the three-and-a-half years since her son was shot dead, although she has had the final say on every decision taken by the campaign, save for two occasions. The first was a visit to Stockwell station, paid for by the Metropolitan Police, to visit the spot where her son was killed. The second was to hear her son's killers give evidence in court.

After that ordeal, she told reporters that hearing the evidence of firearms officers C2 and C12 had been "incredibly difficult", and added: "Sometimes in the court it has felt like I cannot go on listening; it feels like too much and I want to run out of court so I do not have to hear it all. But I force myself to stay and listen, as I hope that through their evidence and the contradictions in all the police officers' stories which are now coming out, some justice for my son will be done."

But, despite her professed happiness at the jury's verdict, that search for justice is bound to continue.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
Pistorius leaves Pretoria High Court to be taken to prison
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Life and Style
tech

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album