Page last updated at 00:05 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 01:05 UK

Q&A: The Menezes inquest

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News home affairs reporter

What is this inquest about?

The inquest at the Oval Cricket Ground set out to establish how and why Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician from Brazil, was shot dead by police while sitting on a London Underground train.

The coroner, Sir Michael Wright, and the jury heard from almost 70 witnesses, including more than 40 police officers. The jury are being asked to return a verdict setting out what they think happened on 22 July 2005.

What were police doing when they shot Mr de Menezes?

The day before he was killed, London had witnessed a botched attempt by four men to suicide bomb the transport network. Within hours, police had leads on the suspects who had gone on the run. Mr de Menezes lived in a block of flats linked to one of the bombers, Hussain Osman. When the Brazilian left home the next morning, he was followed because some officers thought he could be the bomber. About half an hour later he was dead.

What other inquiries have already taken place into this death?

There have been four inquiries and one trial related to the Brazilian's death. Three were carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the watchdog.

The first inquiry, known as Stockwell One, looked at the circumstances of the shooting. Its conclusions prompted the Old Bailey prosecution of the Metropolitan Police for breaching health and safety laws.

The force was found guilty in 2007 after the jury heard evidence that the force had not taken adequate steps to protect the public or Mr de Menezes.

The IPCC's Stockwell Two looked at the actions of top officers in the hours after Mr de Menezes was killed. They had allegedly released inaccurate information about the victim's identity. The inquiry concluded they had not set out to deliberately mislead the public - but criticised the way they handled information.

A third minor IPCC inquiry looked into a complaint made by the de Menezes family over how they were treated after the shooting. Their complaints were dismissed.

Finally, the Metropolitan Police Authority, which oversees the force, carried out its own review of how police chiefs had responded to the IPCC's reports. It concluded that more work had to be done and that there was still no definitive account of what had happened.

Did there need to be another hearing?

All violent or unexplained deaths are subject to an inquest as one of the cornerstones of the law in England and Wales. The fundamental principle of inquests is to discover the full facts and learn lessons.

This means they are different to criminal trials because the coroner decides who should give evidence in the interests of revealing all the facts.

In contract, criminal cases revolve around lawyers presenting evidence and witnesses beneficial to their version of events.

What can the jury decide?

The jury does not decide whether or not someone is guilty of a crime - but they have a range of verdicts open to them.

The coroner, summing up the evidence, told the jury that they would not be considering a further option of unlawful killing which is sometimes seen in other inquests.

They were told they could return a verdict of lawful killing or an "open verdict", if they are not sure how and why the Brazilian died.

He has also asked the jury to answer a number of questions relating to the circumstances of the death.

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