Police officers who shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes 'should not be prosecuted', rules ECHR

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 30 March 2016 14:23
De Menezes was shot dead in Stockwell Tube station on 22 July 2005
De Menezes was shot dead in Stockwell Tube station on 22 July 2005

The UK was right not to charge any police officers over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an electrician who they thought was a suicide bomber, in 2005.

Prosecutors dropped the case after an investigation because it was decided there was insufficient evidence for the “realistic prospect” of convicting any one officer over the killing.

The Brazilian man’s family took their fight for justice over the shooting to the European Court of Human Rights, but judges have now ruled against them by 13 votes to four.

Mr De Menezes was shot seven times in the head by firearms officers as he boarded a train at Stockwell Tube station in south London on 22 July, 11 years ago.

Lawyers for the family had argued the decision not to prosecution anyone over the shooting was in violation of Mr De Menezes’ right to life, under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

They also challenged the definition of self-defence used by British authorities in the case.

In a ruling, judges in Strasbourg concluded there had been a thorough investigation into Mr De Menezes’ death, which “concluded that there was insufficient evidence against any individual officer to prosecute”.

They found that the Crown Prosecution Service was not obligated to lower the evidence threshold under human rights laws where the state was involved in the killing.

“The decision not to prosecute any individual officer was not due to any failings in the investigation or the State’s tolerance of or collusion in unlawful acts,” the court said.

The decision by Europe’s highest human rights court brings to an end an 11-year legal saga which saw the police’s account of events rejected at an inquest.

Mr De Menezes was killed by officers hunting for the perpetrators of a failed suicide bomb attack in London the day before. The incident came two weeks after the deadly 7/7 bombings.

The CPS announced in 2006 that no individual would be charged over the killing of the 27-year-old.

The following year the Metropolitan Police was fined £175,000 under health and safety laws.

At an inquest, the coroner ruled out a verdict of unlawful killing – but also rejected the police account. An open verdict was eventually returned.

In 2009, the family of the electrician agreed an undisclosed settlement with Scotland Yard.

The original application to the ECHR was lodged by Mr De Menezes’ cousin on 21 January 2008, more than eight years ago. A hearing took place in the ECHR's Grand Chamber in June last year.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments