Friday 12 December 2008
Jean Charles de Menezes: a carnival of perjury
A gardening blog is not the place for a political commentary but I'm making this exception in the light of the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest which concluded today. I think the jury did their best to return the fairest verdict available to them, but the inquest, and the coroner who oversaw it, are a national disgrace.
I'm sickened and appalled by this corruption of justice and feel it's important to say so publicly.
I don't know how widely reported this incident has been outside the UK, so in case anyone doesn't know what it's about, it concerns a young Brazilian electrician in London who was shot in the head several times at point blank range by police officers who mistook him for a terror suspect.
Three years on, the coroner at his inquest barred the jury from returning a verdict of unlawful killing ... denying them their legal right to make their own minds up and effectively giving the police immunity from being held accountable.
What's more, the police appear to have told fibs to the court. All the civilian witnesses agreed that the police didn't give Jean any warning at all before executing him. But the officers saw fit to perjure themselves by claiming they did. The jury made it clear they didn't believe the police, but they were powerless to indict them for manslaughter.
So this poor man was killed by the state without so much as a by your leave and it's not manslaughter? Well I dunno what the hell else you call it. If the trigger had been pulled by anyone other than a serving police officer then they'd be on trial for murder. And you can't defend a murder charge by saying you meant to kill someone else.
I remember at the time of the shooting they initially justified their "mistake" by claiming that Jean vaulted over the barriers into the tube station and that he was wearing a bulky jacket which might have had a bomb under it - contrary to the accounts by other witnesses. Well, now that the CCTV images have been made public it's clear that neither of those things was true. The police have been lying about this case from day one.
The government have been whittling away at our rights and freedoms for years on the pretext of making us all safer, and somehow the anti-terror powers only seem to get used on the wrong people and for the wrong reasons (like the anti-war protesters here in Gloucestershire who had their collars felt under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act). You can now be arrested for making peaceful protests anywhere near the Houses of Parliament. Personally I believe the terrorism threat has been exaggerated as an excuse to pass bad laws, but that's another issue. I have nothing but contempt for the current British government and the illiberal intolerant ideology of Jacqui Smith, our po-faced hag of a home secretary.
So the de Menezes family have not had closure or justice. I hope they'll find the strength to keep fighting for it.
For now, the message being sent out by this blighted coroner is that it's acceptable for the police to blow someone's head off in a public place on the off chance that they might be a terrorist.
Well it isn't.