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Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Thursday, 25 October 2007 12:59 UK

Menezes 'acted like any commuter'

Jean Charles de Menezes
Jean Charles de Menezes was shot on 22 July, 2005

The Brazilian shot dead by police who mistook him for a suicide bomber was acting no differently to any other London commuter, a jury has been told.

In her closing prosecution speech, Clare Montgomery QC, said: "He did nothing to deserve the death that you have heard so vividly described."

The Metropolitan Police deny health and safety charges over the operation when Jean Charles de Menezes was shot.

Miss Montgomery said Mr de Menezes was entitled to the protection of the law.

His conduct that morning was no different from the conduct of hundreds of others, of commuters who come into the city
Clare Montgomery QC

Mr de Menezes was shot seven times in a London Underground train on 22 July, 2005, by police who mistakenly thought he was 21 July bomber Hussain Osman.

They had followed him from flats in south London linked to Osman. He took a bus to Brixton station, but when he realised the station was closed due to a terror alert he got back on a bus to go to Stockwell Tube station.

Surveillance officers became suspicious of him, but Miss Montgomery said he was not behaving oddly.

"It is all too frequent that you get off the bus to get on the Tube.

"Even if it is not a terror alert, you have to get back on because your Tube station is closed," she told the Old Bailey trial.

"That is the height of his wickedness that morning, and the fact that when armed officers burst onto the platform shouting 'armed police', he stood up and tried to go off the train."

Character

She urged jurors not to be "deflected" by details of Mr de Menezes' character, such as his cocaine consumption or his migrant status.

"Whoever he was, wherever he came from, he was entitled to the protection of the law that day.

"He did nothing to deserve the death that you have heard so vividly described.

"His conduct that morning was no different from the conduct of hundreds of others, of commuters who come into the city."

Miss Montgomery said that, if a guilty verdict resulted, it would "improve the police, not destroy it".

She said the "shining example" of bravery shown by many officers would not be besmirched by a conviction.

'Exposure to danger'

However, she told the jury: "If the Metropolitan Police are exposing the people of London to danger because they are not doing what is reasonable and what is practicable, it is surely in the interests of Londoners that you say so."

She said the case was not a "condemnation of the police generally", while the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Crown Prosecution Service, which brought it, were not "anti-police".

"The crown's case is that it was reasonable and practical for police to act much more urgently, much more effectively than they did on July 22 and that so far as their conduct is concerned, because they failed to do that, they exposed the public of London to danger," she added.

The trial continues.


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