De Menezes case 'unique', inquest told

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The Independent Online

Terrorism a former anti-terror chief admitted he "frankly did not know" how police could avoid shooting innocent people like the Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes.

Chief Superintendent Steve Swain travelled around the world to glean intelligence for Scotland Yard after the September 11 attacks in 2001. But he said at the inquest into Mr de Menezes' death yesterday that after "weeks and months" of agonising, he still did not know how police could not make mistakes.

Police marksmen shot Mr de Menezes, 27, seven times in the head at point-blank range on a train carriage on 22 July 2005. He had been mistaken for one of the terrorists behind the previous day's failed suicide attacks on London.

Addressing the jury sitting at Oval cricket ground, South London, Mr Swain denied that events leading to the death were "utterly predictable". "At the time nobody ever discussed that sort of thing, where suicide bombers had failed because their device did not go off or something like that. A situation like this was almost unique because we were dealing with failed suicide bombers."

He said that under the Kratos shoot-to-kill policy, officers should only shoot without warning if they were "100 per cent sure" they were facing a suicide bomber about to detonate. The jury also heard how the then prime minister, Tony Blair, knew that police were preventing independent investigators from entering Stockwell Tube station to view the scene of the shooting.

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