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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 July 2006, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Menezes family pays tearful tribute
By Joe Boyle
BBC News

One year after the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, his relatives and friends have gathered at the south London Tube station where he was killed.

Menezes family vigil
Alex Pareira (R) led family and friends in a minute's silence

A hot and humid Saturday at Stockwell Tube station was the backdrop for an intensely emotional display of grief, one year on from the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Four cousins of Mr Menezes - Alessandro and Alex Pareira, Vivien Figueiredo and Patricia Da Silva Armani - came to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial, set up shortly after he was killed.

There were few members of the public at the vigil, to allow the family "private, peaceful reflection", explained Asad Rehman, who helps to run the Justice4Jean campaign.

He said that it had been a "difficult year" for the Menezes family because they still did not know the full story of what happened on 22 July last year.

"It only seems like yesterday that Jean was with them," he said.

Shrine to Jean Charles de Menezes
Floral tributes were left at the base of the shrine

As the crowd of journalists parted and the young Brazilians came forward, clutching bouquets of flowers, grief was etched into their faces.

Alex Pareira stood directly in front of what has become a type of shrine to his cousin, staring at the lit candles and brightly coloured flowers, struggling to hold back tears.

All four - along with several of their friends and supporters - stood bowed, for a minute's silence.

They laid flowers, then joined hands and listened to prayers read out by Brazilian priest Father Jose Oswaldo.

"We hope that something like this never happens again, and we pray for peace, and for love, and for justice," he said.

In almost total silence, the family hugged each other, moved back into the station and took the escalator down to the platform where their cousin had been shot dead.

At the exact spot where Mr Menezes boarded the train, the group again joined hands and prayed. Ms Da Silva broke down in tears.

In a morning dominated by painful memories, the cousins paid tribute to Mr Menezes through their grief.

Rallying points

No family members spoke of their well-documented criticisms of the police over the shooting, but reminders of the case's significance were everywhere to be seen.

"Jean Charles de Menezes: An innocent man who was shot dead by police," read a stark, printed message at the top of the shrine.

Menezes vigil
Brazilian priests said prayers and read passages from the Bible

Newspaper cuttings proclaiming anger over the shooting of the Brazilian electrician were stapled to the back of the shrine's wooden frame.

The presence of Abul Koyair and his brother Mohammed Abdulkahar - who was shot and wounded by police at his east London home last month - served as a reminder of the case's wider importance.

The Forest Gate pair, along with Mr Menezes, have become rallying points for critics of the government's perceived heavy-handedness in the so-called war on terror.

Stockwell resident Mary Edwards is one person who believes the political aspect of the vigil should not be ignored.

She has helped to look after the shrine over the past year and says it has become symbolic of the Menezes family's campaign for someone to be held accountable for his death.

"We won't stop coming here each week, cleaning up and arranging the flowers, until there is resolution in the judicial process," she said.


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See memorial flowers at Stockwell station





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