European Court of Human Rights rules that UK prosecutors correct not to charge officers in Jean Charles de Menezes police shooting case

 
Hayley Kirton
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10th Anniversary Of The Death By Police Shooting Of Jean Charles De Menezes
De Menezes was fatally shot by police officers in 2005 (Source: Getty)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has today decided, by 13 votes to four, that UK prosecutors were correct not to charge individual police officers over the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

De Menezes, a Brazilian national, was fatally shot in July 2005 at Stockwell tube station when police mistook him for a suicide bomber.

The case was brought to the ECHR by Patricia Armani Da Silva, de Menezes' cousin. Armani Da Silva argued that the incident amounted to a violation of article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which refers to a right to life, and by not prosecuting anybody, the UK had not fulfilled its duty to ensure accountability for its agents of his death.

However, the ECHR concluded that the decision not to prosecute any individual police officer had been reached because the prosecutor had determined there was insufficient evidence, not because the investigation had not been conducted thoroughly.

In January 2006, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded that de Menezes' death was caused by mistakes that could, and should, have been avoided and outlined a number of possible offences that the police officers involved could have been charged with, including murder and gross negligence.

However, in July 2006, the Crown Prosecution Service determined that proving beyond reasonable doubt that the officers who shot de Menezes did not genuinely believe they were in a life-threatening situation would be very difficult.

Additionally, in May 2007, the IPCC decided disciplinary action against the officers involved in the operation should not be pursued because there was no realistic chance of any such charges being upheld.

However, at a 2008 inquest, the jury decided that the coroner had excluded unlawful killing from the range of possible verdicts and, in 2009, the family reached a confidential settlement following civil action.

De Menezes died just two weeks after the 7/7 terrorist attacks on London's transport network, in which 56 people died and many more were injured.

A government spokesperson said: "The government considers the Strasbourg court has handed down the right judgment. The facts of this case are tragic, but the government considers that the court has upheld the important principle that individuals are only prosecuted where there is a realistic prospect of conviction."