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Case of innocent man shot dead by UK police to begin in Strasbourg

Proceedings are scheduled to begin on Wednesday in another high-profile case against the UK at the European Court of Human Rights, at a time of increasing disapproval of the Court among UK government officials.

Armani Da Silva v. the United Kingdom concerns the shooting of innocent Jean Charles de Menezes by UK police in 2005, following the attacks on the London transport system in July of that year. Brazilian-born de Menezes was falsely identified as a terror-suspect and shot nine times in the head on July 22nd, allegedly without warning, as he was about to board an Underground train at Stockwell station, south London.

De Menezes’ family has brought his case to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing a violation of his right to life, the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment, and the right to an effective remedy.

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Following a UK investigation of the killing, no officers were charged. His family insists there was no reason to believe that de Menezes had presented a threat to the police, which would have justified the use of lethal force.

The officers had mistaken the 27-year-old electrician for a fugitive suicide bomber. His “clothing and behaviour” seemed suspicious, a Scotland Yard spokesperson said.  According to the Court’s press release, two of the terrorist suspects also lived at the same address as Mr de Menezes.

The Metropolitan Police were found guilty and fined £ 175,000, yet no individual officer has been prosecuted.

If held admissible, the case is likely to reopen an investigation into the individual responsibilities of the officers at the scene.

The UK Conservative Party is seeking to renegotiate its judicial relationship with the Court. Ahead of recent elections, the party had announced that they were considering a withdrawal from the Court, in case of re-election. The outcome of such a high-profile case will undoubtedly contribute to these developments.

Some previous controversial rulings have included loosening the prohibition on prisoners’ ability to vote in the UK and blocking the deportation of cleric Abu Qatada.

 

Elisabeth Brahier

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