13 Dec 2008

Open verdict at Menezes inquest

5:58 am on 13 December 2008

A jury in London has returned an open verdict at the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, whom British police mistook for a suicide bomber.

It rejected the police account that Mr de Menezes, 27, of Brazil, was killed lawfully by two officers who shot him seven times at Stockwell Tube in south London on 22 July 2005.

His mother, Maria Otone de Menezes, said she was very happy and felt "reborn" after hearing the verdict.

The Metropolitan Police said his death was a tragic mistake.

After the verdict was announced the de Menezes family lawyer called for officers to be investigated for perjury.

The inquest jury was given the choice of two possible verdicts, but chose to reject the option that Mr Menezes was killed lawfully by the police.

Earlier in the inquest the jury was instructed not to return a verdict of unlawful killing.

The 10 jury members took a week of deliberations to reach their verdict after a hearing lasting three months. A majority of eight to two said they did not believe officers had shouted "armed police" before opening fire.

Coroner Sir Michael Wright, who presided over the inquest held at the Oval Cricket Ground in London, said the facts did not justify allowing the jury to consider an unlawful killing.

He is to write to the acting Met Commissioner, the Home Secretary and the Metropolitan Police Authority to raise issues over police practices.

Throughout the inquest, Metropolitan Police officers told the hearings they honestly believed Mr de Menezes was one of four bombers who attempted to strike London on 21 July 2005.