Man killed by Met marksman not linked to terror inquiry

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The Independent Online

Shocked eyewitnesses had described how the victim, named as Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician from Brazil, who had lived in this country for three years, had the look of a cornered rabbit before officers from the elite S019 firearms unit held him down and "unloaded" five pistol shots into his head.

As the massive manhunt for the four bombers thought to be behind last Thursday's abortive attacks continued, the Metropolitan Police expressed regret over the death, describing it as a "tragedy". An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is already under way, and will examine the "shoot-to-kill" policy now adopted for suspected bombers.

Mr de Menezes had been followed from his home in south London to Stockwell station after coming under surveillance and was felt by police to be acting suspiciously. A chase ensued before he was finally stopped on a Northern line train.

Despite an initial statement from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, that the man was "directly linked" to the terrorists who had tried to kill Londoners on Thursday, the force last night admitted he was not connected in any way. In statement, the force said: "We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of July 21. For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy, and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets."

Glen Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers in the capital, said: "Police officers in these circumstances are expected to make split-second decisions that have life-long consequences."

Britain's Muslim leaders were given advance notice of the admission in an effort to limit the backlash against police. Chief constables had already reported increasing tensions between police and Muslim communities around Britain in the wake of the incident.

Last night, Murad Qureshi, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, the force's governing body, said he would be pressing Commissioner Blair for answers. "I'm pretty shocked about this. We have to move on this very, very quickly," he said.

The Brazilian government said last night it was shocked and perplexed to lean that London police had killed a Brazilian citizen.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, defended the police, saying they had done "what they believed necessary to protect the lives of the public". There was also support from Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the human rights organisation Liberty, who said there should be no rush to judgement.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "It is absolutely vital that the utmost care is taken to ensure that innocent people are not killed due to overzealousness."

Before the announcement, police raided an address in Tulse Hill, south London, believed to have been where the dead man was staying. Two men arrested in Stockwell on Friday in connection with last week's attempted bombings were still being held last night at high-security Paddington Green police station, and a suspect package was found at Little Wormwood Scrubs in west London.

Officers are now investigating a potential link between those responsible for last week's attempted terror attacks in London and a whitewater rafting trip attended by two of the 7 July bombers.

Earlier this week, it emerged that Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer rode the rapids at the National Whitewater Centre, in Bala, north Wales, just weeks before the first attacks. Now it is claimed that other individuals connected with the investigation may also have attended the centre.