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Family Demands Truth About London Police Killing of Brazilian Man


The family of a Brazilian man killed by London police who mistook him for a suicide bomber say he was murdered, and that the police chief should resign.

The killing of 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes is becoming an international incident, as the government in his native Brazil expresses its outrage and his family demands the resignation of the London police chief.

London police shot and killed Mr. de Menezes on a subway car on July 22, suspecting he was a suicide bomber.

The killing came just one day after four unexploded bombs had been planted on London's transport network, and two weeks after four suicide bombers had killed 52 London commuters.

The de Menezes case took a new twist this week when Britain's ITV News received leaked material from an independent investigation. A photo of the corpse broadcast by the network appears to contradict witness claims that Mr. de Menezes wore a heavy coat that could have hidden a bomb.

Relatives of Mr. de Menezes want to know why police allowed a false version of events to stand for so long. A cousin of the dead man, Alessandro Pereira, spoke with reporters Friday.

"For three weeks we have had to listen to lie after lie about Jean and how he was killed," he said. "The police even went to Brazil. They met my family. Yet they still didn't tell us the truth. Did they think because we are poor Brazilians we do not deserve the truth?"

Relatives and lawyers for the family are demanding the resignation of London Police Commissioner Ian Blair, but he says he will not quit.

Mr. Blair has told British radio the de Menezes killing must be viewed in light of the massive anti-terrorist operation that was under way.

"Tragic as the death of Mr. Menezes is, and we have apologized for it and we take responsibility for it, it is one death out of 57," said Ian Blair. "And the huge context here is the largest criminal inquiry in English history, with 52 innocent victims' death, with still double-figures of people whose lives have been wrecked by these bombs, with four dead bombers and one tragic death. And we can't let that one tragic death outweigh everything else."

Mr. Blair spoke one day after the Independent Police Complaints Commission said he had tried to prevent the panel from investigating the de Menezes killing.

The commissioner denies there was a cover-up, but he says he felt the anti-terrorist operation deserved precedence.

Meanwhile, Brazil says it is sending its own team of investigators to London next week to question police about the killing.

The foreign ministry says the latest news about the killing, in the words of a statement, "heightens the sense of outrage of the Brazilian government."

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