Tag Archives: murder

Horrors Unfold in Iran

Video of a protester murdered in post-election violence in Iran. Hidden behind the cut because it is quite horrific. Be aware if you click you’ll see video of a dead body, killed by the Iranian Basij militia. Today pro-Mousavi protesters have been drenched in acid. Where will the violence lead?

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Belittle Homophobic Hate Speech Will You?

It’s interesting the number of complaints there have been in the last few days at the government’s attempt to remove the ‘free speech’ clause relating to incitement to homophobic hatred legislation, passed last year. They were however successful:

The government has defeated an amendment in the House of Commons that would have created a defence of “free speech” in a bill that is designed to criminalise incitement of hatred in relation to sexual orientation.

Campaigners including the Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson and the gay actor Christopher Biggins had argued that the clause relating to hatred in the Coroners and Justice Bill could limit freedom of expression and could lead to prosecutions over gay “jokes”.

The Coroners and Justice Bill is being used to remove an amendment to legislation passed last year that allowed the “discussion or criticism” of sexual practices last year.

The amendment that was defeated today by 154 votes, would have effectively re-instated the defence of free speech.

I actually have some sympathy for that argument. However that sympathy is tempered by the recent demonstration of just how little acknowledgment there is in the criminal justice system of homophobia. Murdered gay teenager Michael Causer‘s other killer was found guilty this week, but only sentenced to eleven years in jail. By the time he’s out he’ll be a bit over 30 – that’s nothing. What was  striking was the judge dismissing the killing as a hate crime, even though the police and all witnesses knew it to be one:

In court, Mr Justice King said O’Connor had not acted out of homophobic motives, instead describing him as “ignoble” and “cowardly”.

However, he added that O’Connor had not been solely responsible for the crime.

Homophobic hatred is real, it’s omnipresent and it’s a killer. The law isn’t anywhere near enough as it stands even for judges to take homophobic motivation for murder as meaningful. It must be clear, it must be unrestricted and demonstrate that inciting or acting on hatred for gay people, merely for being who we are, will not be tolerated by the law. As little regard as I have for this government, I appreciate the stance they’re taking on this. Michael Causer will not get justice, but maybe finally starting to mainstream the unacceptability of homophobia might improve the odds at least for justice being done in the future.

Brandon McInerney’s Father Dies

The LA Times reports:

The father of an Oxnard teenager accused of gunning down a gay classmate who was romantically attracted to him has been found dead, Ventura County authorities said today.

Bill McInerney, 45, was found shortly before 8 a.m. in the living room of his Silver Strand home by a friend, said James Baroni, Ventura County’s chief deputy medical examiner. The friend was supposed to drive him to a court hearing in his son’s murder trial, Baroni said.

Very sad. Just at the time his son needs him the most. Whilst it’s unacceptable that Brandon should have killed Lawrence King, homophobia that violent does not come out of the blue. To try him as an adult is to continue the brutality his father may already have inflicted on his life, but it’s hardly surprising. The US still has not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – one of just two UN member states not to do so.

CPS Says Metropolitan Police Allowed to Murder

The inquest jury into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, famously barred from giving an unlawful killing verdict for undisclosed reasons, at least were able to make clear that based on the abundant evidence presented to them, that they considered the Metropolitan Police marksmen who killed him to be liars. The clear implication of such an indictment was that they committed murder and committed perjury to cover it up. Perjury at the very least is a serious criminal offence, certainly for cops with guns – particularly one with a penchant for using them, but today the Crown Prosecution Service said they didn’t care:

Stephen O’Doherty, the lawyer who led the CPS review, said: “I have now concluded that there is insufficient evidence that any offence was committed by any individual officers in relation to the tragic death of Mr de Menezes.”

The officers, known as Charlie 2 and Charlie 12, told the inquest they had shouted a warning at Mr de Menezes and he had continued moving towards them.

But passengers at the inquest had said this was not the case, and the jury did not accept the officers’ accounts.

Mr O’Doherty said: “Although there were some inconsistencies in what the officers said at the inquest, there were also inconsistencies in what passengers had said.

“I concluded that in the confusion of what occurred on the day, a jury could not be sure that any officer had deliberately given a false account of events.

Except the jury was sure that both men had knowingly lied; they were also clear that whatever inconsistencies may have been present between all witness accounts, that they still flatly contradicted those of the killers. The justifications that Charlie 12 gave under oath for killing him were acknowledged by the jury to be lies, so the question is begged – why would the CPS find that Charlie 12 wasn’t at the very least guilty of perjury?

De Menezes: Police Cowardice or Incompetence?

I’m amazed at the low standards to which the Metropolitan Police are being held, and the degree to which commentators are choosing to defer to police ‘fear’ or ‘bravery’ in examining the death of Jean Charles De Menezes, when the inquest jury determined their account was based on incompetence and lies. Why should it matter that suicide bombers had finally acted against London? I expect the police to behave in the same, cool, evidence-based manner at all times because that’s what they’re trained to do. I don’t expect CO19 officers to run into a tube station, with little information, garbled commands, and to kill innocent people with no warning and no chance to identify themselves ever. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone would have you believe:

Cressida Dick (w)as the “most talented” officer he worked with.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Livingstone said the police officers made mistakes because of the “unbelievable” pressure they were under.

Ms Dick, who was in command of the operation and subsequently promoted, has “commissioner potential” he says.

Now ‘pressure’ is an excuse to write off a human life. Can someone tell me how Dick is ‘commissioner potential’ when she changed her orders multiple times, allowed De Menezes onto the train, and never properly articulated what ‘stop(ping)’ him meant? And is ‘pressure’ a justifiable excuse for surveillance officer ‘Frank’ to have made a spotty initial identification of De Menezes as ‘European’ (which his features were), having been distracted by a call of nature, but to then to change his mind to being unsure if he was failed suicide bomber Hussain Osman, despite there being no resemblance whatsoever? For a lay person, terrified of the potential suicide bombing wave perhaps, but a trained surveillance officer?

Was it fear, pressure or bravery which allowed the surveillance team on the train to either  misidentify De Menezes as Osman or fail to inform C2 and C12 otherwise, when other passengers on the train confirm they had plenty of time to determine De Menezes clearly wasn’t dark-skinned in appearance (approx 5 mins in):

And what about the surveillance officer on the bus whose positive identification of De Menezes as Osman legitimised C2 to open fire when he eventually arrived? Could fear or pressure have caused him not to notice that De Menezes was Caucasian (which Osman was not)?

“I heard over the radio that there was a surveillance officer on the bus and I heard them say ‘this was definitely our man’.”

When asked what else he heard as he pursued the bus in a silver Mercedes with two other firearms officers, he said: “I heard over the radio that he was nervous (he wasn’t), acting strangely (he wasn’t) and that he was standing up in the stairs acting very twitchy (he wasn’t).”

C2 said it was the greatest threat he had faced during 17 years as a specialist firearms officer.

He said: “I have been in the firearms unit for a number of years and we have never faced a threat like that.

“It occurred to me that it was very likely, sooner or later, that we were going to have to confront these people and, if it all went wrong, we were aware the consequences were huge.

“It did occur to me that I might not get home if it all went wrong.”

Or maybe he never said it at all:

One of the firearms officers told the jury he heard surveillance officers positively identify the suspect over the radio. The surveillance officer in question contradicted this in court.

And then there’s the above video, which reports that C2 said his actual reason for opening fire was De Menezes getting up from his seat (he did) and approaching him in a threatening manner (he didn’t). Maybe it was fear or pressure which caused him to shoot him anyway, but if that’s true, wouldn’t that have justified him shooting pretty much anyone? Is that what we’re really saying, that a highly trained police officer should be able to justify trigger-happiness through ‘fear’, ‘pressure’ or ‘bravery’ (via the spin of their colleagues)? And if, as the jury maintains, he did lie about De Menezes’ movements (and bear in mind with then-Commissioner Sir Ian Blair’s deliberate obstruction of the IPCC from investigating immediately all participants in the killing had time to confer and indeed change evidence) doesn’t that mean he shot him for no reason? Can that be justified by the context in which they were operating? Hugh Muir says:

Let’s look at what the judge decided. He said no reasonable person having heard the evidence could conclude that what occurred was murder. That’s surely right. Whatever happened underground at Stockwell, there was no malice aforethought. It was a horrible and scary time. Those of us who live in the capital well remember it. People had died on 7/7 and had been maimed in the most horrible circumstances and the talk was of an immediate repetition, of young men queuing up to martyr themselves. The context is important.

I don’t agree. If I were let loose with a gun the context would be everything, yet these were supposedly highly trained firearms officers. They should and must be held to the highest possible standards at all times. When does gung ho become malice? When do unchallenged racism and trigger-happiness become murder or manslaughter? When does arriving inexplicably late mean you rely on more than a single, uncorroborated (and by then dated) confirmation of the subject’s identity before opening fire? Isn’t malice aforethought an execution without any reason? Yesterday afternoon however the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Crown Prosecution indicated their level of interest in pursuing charges of perjury against the officers:

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said Ms Wistrich’s call for a perjury inquiry was “wrong”.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it had not received any referrals in relation to perjury charges.

A spokesman for the police watchdog said: “It is wrong to construe that there has been possible perjury from the findings of the jury because they were asked to decide on the balance of probability.

“The jury could not indicate whether they believed certain witnesses were mistaken or lied.”

Erm they answered the Coroner’s question – did C12 issue an ‘armed police’ warning? No. Did De Menezes stand up when confronted with the kill team? Yes. Did he approach them in any way? No. All the police said all three statements were true, the witnesses said otherwise and the jury agreed. No perjury? Really?

“Noone set out that day to kill an innocent man,” said Sir Paul Stephenson.

Yet by the end of the day Jean Charles De Menezes had been killed, the Metropolitan Police had initiated a cover-up of the truth and started smearing his name to justify their actions. Cowardice, incompetence or something more?

The De Menezes Whitewash

So the verdict of the De Menezes inquest is in: an open verdict.

The jury has said that, after the option of unlawful killing was inexplicably withdrawn from them by the coroner Sir Michael Wright, that the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes was not lawful, and that the Metropolitan Police firearms officer C12 who fired on him lied when he claimed to have shouted ‘armed police’ before opening fire in 2005. Now I may be naive here, but that sounds an awful lot like murder, cover-up and perjury – so why would the coroner refuse to allow an unlawful killing verdict?

The intrigue exploded into the open today, with the revelation of a gagging order imposed by the coroner when he began summing up last week:

These decisions began a week of escalating tension that exploded into open hostility between the family and the court and resulted in the relatives withdrawing their legal team and their cooperation.

“It is increasingly clear in the last week that the coroner’s impartiality has simply disappeared,” said Jasmin Khan of the Justice4Jean campaign. “That is one of the reasons why the family felt they had no choice but to withdraw their cooperation.”

The relatives had hoped the jury would be told of their decision to withdraw before they retired to consider their verdicts, but the barristers for the police and the coroner agreed that only the blandest of statements about the absence of the family’s legal team could be given to the jury.

The coroner had earlier ordered the public and the media to leave the courtroom while he completed his summing up to the jury last week, giving no reason except to say he had reached a “sensitive” point in the hearing.

When the public refused amid repeated requests for clarification of his ruling, there was a standoff for an hour and 40 minutes. The public refused to leave and the coroner refused to return to court.

At one point the team of bouncers with walkie-talkie microphones on their shirt cuffs who had been hired to provide security at the inquest were seen huddling in a corner. “We can’t use violence, that’s clear,” one was overheard saying.

Eventually the coroner’s orders were upheld and the public, including supporters of the family, left the court.

The relatives were held back by security guards and kept out of the courtroom while barristers, police and the coroner filed in. Having lost all faith that those inside would honour the principle that “justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”, they attempted to storm into the courtroom.

Bizarre. But the jury was unmoved by Wright’s incredible manipulations, and clearly did everything it could to confirm legally that De Menezes was murdered:

The jury found that the firearms officer, C12, did not shout “armed police” before shooting De Menezes and that the Brazilian did not move towards him aggressively, prompting the fatal shot.

De Menezes’ Death: Lawful?

Seriously. The coroner of the inquest into the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes by the Metropolitan Police in 2005 said today that jurors:

would be allowed to return only a verdict of lawful killing or an open verdict.

With all the evidence considered, a verdict of unlawful killing could not be supported, he said.

After consideration and submissions, he told the 11-strong jury, “I so direct you that the evidence in this case, taken at its highest, would not justify my leaving verdicts of unlawful killing to you.”

Wright explained: “I’m not saying that nothing went wrong in a police operation which resulted in the killing of an innocent man.

“All interested persons agree that a verdict of unlawful killing could only be left to you if you could be sure that a specific officer had committed a very serious crime: murder or manslaughter,” Reuters reported him as saying.

Sorry?! Have I missed something?

The jurors will additionally be asked to consider four questions, including whether C12 did indeed – as he told the inquest – shout “armed police” before opening fire; whether De Menezes then stood up from his seat; and whether the young Brazilian moved towards C12 before being grabbed by another officer.

The firearms officer testified that after the warning had been shouted, De Menezes’s actions had made him fear the electrician was carrying a bomb. Several passengers on the same carriage contradicted this account, saying they had heard no warnings, and that De Menezes gave no significant reaction to the police’s arrival.

However, Wright added, even if the jury found the officers had lied, they would not be able to blame them for the death. “Many people tell lies for a variety of reasons … [including] to mitigate the impact of what might be a … tragic mistake,” he said.

I beg your pardon? It’s cut and dried that the police lied through their teeth. The only credible implication of that would be that the shooter or the shooter in collaboration with other members of his team murdered De Menezes. Cressida Dick told the incompetent officers De Menezes was allowed onto the train, but they changed evidence to cover it up. At the inquest she then perpetuates the lie about challenging De Menezes. And the opinion on UK Liberty to me feels about right:

But what concerns me is that any member of the public might act just as de Menezes did, and even though his actions are entirely innocent, because of the situation the police are in and the information they have been given, anything he does might contribute to forming an honest belief that he is a threat, and he may wind up being killed.

Can someone then tell me why an unlawful killing verdict is impossible? The surveillance teams didn’t know who he was for sure (I’ve spoken to members of the family and they confirmed he looked nothing like failed suicide bomber Hussain Osman) and were given confused and confusing directions from their control, regularly making horrifically flawed assumptions about him. The kill team was out of position and out of contact until far too late, and it’s widely acknowledged that they lied in saying any warning was given to De Menezes himself. Seventeen fellow passengers corroborated this fact. Based then on thin air they then shot seven bullets into the entirely innocent man’s head. How can any of that be lawful?!