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London Police in Court Over De Menezes Death

Reuters | October 14 2006

Officials representing London's Metropolitan Police force were due in court on Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of a Brazilian man mistaken for a suicide bomber.

Scotland Yard has been charged under Health and Safety laws over the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, at Stockwell underground station in south London, in July of last year.

Prosecutors say that officers involved in the bungled operation - who will not face charges individually - failed to provide for the health, safety and welfare of de Menezes.

An attempt by the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), the body that oversees the force, to have the case thrown out was rejected on Thursday.

The MPA said the matter had been reviewed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Attorney General and the decision had been taken to go ahead with the case.

De Menezes was shot eight times, seven times in the head and once in the shoulder, in the carriage of a Northern line train on the morning of July 22.

The incident happened the day after detectives said four men had tried to set off bombs on three underground trains and a bus in a bid to copy the deadly suicide bombings on July 7 when four Islamists killed 52 commuters.

Police officials told City of Westminster magistrates' court last month they would be pleading not guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

London police chief Ian Blair has been heavily criticised over the shooting and the Brazilian's family say he or those involved should have faced charges.

However in July, the CPS said there was not enough evidence to charge individual officers, a move that was condemned by the de Menezes family as "shameful".

Friday will see a preliminary hearing into the health and safety prosecution.

A trial, which could last several months, will likely be held at London's Old Bailey next year when senior officers, including Blair, could give evidence.

If found guilty, media reports suggest the police could face an unlimited fine.

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