Police could face charges over Tube shooting

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The Independent Online

Criminal charges could be brought against police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician wrongly suspected of being a suicide bomber.

The organisation investigating the conduct of police during the shooting in south London has found evidence which indicates that criminal offences may have taken place.

The Crown Prosecution Service is expected to be sent the report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) next month and will make the final decision on whether to bring charges, which could include offences as serious as manslaughter. Up to nine officers have been warned that they are being investigated, although it is unclear how many of these face allegations of criminal, rather than disciplinary, wrongdoing.

In a surprise development, the IPCC also disclosed that their investigators do not intend to interview Sir Ian Blair, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, during their inquiry into the fatal shooting at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July.

The failure to question Sir Ian was criticised by the Conservatives who said that it would "encourage conspiracy theories about a cover-up".

Mr De Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the body by two specialist firearms officers after being mistaken for a suicide bomber the day after the failed 21 July alleged bomb attacks in London.

The shooting was part of the secretive Kratos policy, which includes a " shoot to kill" tactic for dealing with suspect suicide terrorists.

The IPCC, an independent body, was called in to investigate the shooting, which has become one of the most controversial in police history. As part of their investigation, they have examined the flawed surveillance of the Brazilian, who was mistaken as a suspected al-Qa'ida terrorist, the shooting, and the chief officers responsible for controlling the operation. Thirty people who witnessed the shooting have been questioned and about 600 witness statements taken.

Nick Hardwick, chair of the IPCC, said yesterday that his commissioners were preparing to send a file to the CPS in mid-January. The file will contain the IPCC's recommendations for specific charges against named officers. The investigators only have to be convinced that there is enough evidence to suggest that criminal offences may have taken place.

That is a lower threshold than for the CPS, which would then have to decide on bringing charges. Members of an Army surveillance unit who were involved in following the Brazilian could also face charges.

Mr Hardwick defended the inquiry's decision yesterday not to interview Sir Ian, arguing that the investigation was into the shooting incident not the overall strategy. "If you are expecting from us some massive review about the inner workings of the Metropolitan Police Service that is not what we are doing," he said.

He said that a second investigation into a complaint by the family of Mr De Menezes over alleged misinformation about his death and the conduct of Sir Ian was in its early stages. The commissioner is likely be interviewed during the course of that investigation.

Last moments of victim recreated

The last moments of the life of Jean Charles de Menezes have been pieced together by investigators using a virtual reality computer program.

The inquiry team have used video footage from bus and Tube cameras to build up a picture of how he was tracked into Stockwell Tube station.

The investigators also used statements from 30 witnesses, including the firearms officers. Many of them have been traumatised by what they saw.

The use of the "reconstructure" was made more important because the eight cameras that operated on the tube platform where not working properly. The footage was supposed to be recorded on a single device in the station's control room. However, that was broken.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission were able to use other surveillance material and information obtained from 600 statements. The investigators used the computer software to reconstruct the 27-year-old leaving his home in Scotia Road, Tulse Hill, on 22 July.

Video footage of the Brazilian then captures him getting on to a number 2 bus from a nearby bus stop. He gets off the bus, then gets back on and heads for Stockwell Tube station.

Footage is taken of him approaching the Tube station, walking into the hall, picking up a free newspaper, going through the ticket barrier and then heading downstairs.

From then on the virtual computer system, which shows the victim going down on the platform, takes over.