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UK: No police charges in accidental terror death

NO police will be charged in the death of a Brazilian who was mistakenly shot by officers in the tense days following 2005 terror attacks in London, prosecutors announced yesterday after a new review of the case.

Prosecutors had previously decided not to file charges against any police for killing 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes in a London subway car two weeks after 52 commuters were killed in suicide bombings on the British capital's transport network.

But prosecutors were required to review the case one final time after a jury at a coroner's inquest returned an "open verdict" on his death in December.

Prosecutor Stephen O'Doherty said there was insufficient evidence that police had committed any offense. De Menezes was mistaken for a suicide bomber.

In returning its "open verdict," the inquest jury rejected police claims that they lawfully killed de Menezes, who was shot seven times at close range by police who followed him onto a subway car.

Police had insisted they were trying to protect the public from a suicide attack when its officers shot the unarmed man.

De Menezes was killed as he sat aboard a subway train on July 22, 2005, a day after terrorists tried to set off bombs on London's transit system and two weeks after four suicide bombers killed 52 bus and subway commuters.

The two officers who shot him testified that they believed de Menezes was one of the failed bombers who had tried to attack subway trains and a bus the day before. De Menezes had an apartment in the same building as Hussain Osman, a subway bombing suspect later convicted in the failed July 21 attack.

But in their December verdict, the 10 jurors rejected several claims made by police.

London's acting police chief Paul Stephenson said de Menezes' killing had been a "terrible mistake."

"He was an innocent man and we must, and do, accept full responsibility for his death," Stephenson said in December.

But he said that the anti-terror officers "set out with the intention to defend and protect the public" and that "no one set out that day to kill an innocent man."

No individual has been charged in de Menezes' death. A British court convicted London's police force last year of health and safety violations for endangering the public's safety during the shooting. The force was fined 560,000 pounds (US$820,000).


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