Wed, Jul 27, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Brazilians decry Menezes' killing

OUTRAGE Hundreds of Brazilians took to the streets to protest his shooting by UK police, saying that Tony Blair's apology was inadequate


Residents of Gonzaga, Brazil, protest the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes on Monday. Menezes was shot by British police in London on Friday at the Stockwell subway station as they investigated a series of botched transit bombings that occurred a day earlier.


Hundreds of relatives and friends of a Brazilian shot to death in London after being mistaken for a terrorist marched along the cobblestone streets of his hometown, demanding the arrest of the British police who fired the fatal shots.

Some of the protesters held banners Monday denouncing British police as the real terrorists; other placards were adorned with snapshots of Jean Charles de Menezes, urging British Prime Minister Tony Blair to send his body home so it can be buried.

All said Blair's apology did not go far enough.

"Apologies don't help, we want justice," they chanted, stopping briefly to offer a prayer for the 27-year-old electrician who left Brazil to work in Britain so he could return home with enough savings to start a cattle ranch.

Menezes' killing has been the top story on radio and television broadcasts since Sunday, although there has been no large-scale public outcry.

In London, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said he had instructions from President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva "to take firm measures to defend the interests of the family of a Brazilian who died in an absurd manner."

The militant Landless Rural Workers' Movement has scheduled protests Tuesday in front of the British Embassy in Brasilia and the consulate in Rio de Janeiro. The movement said in a statement that Menezes "was assassinated in cold blood, victim of intolerance" and called for a British withdrawal from Iraq.

Gonzaga's mayor, outraged over news Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder, called the killing an "assassination."

"It's easy for Blair to apologize, but it doesn't mean very much," said Mayor Julio de Souza. "What happened to English justice and England, a place where police patrol unarmed?"

Menezes was killed in a London subway station as police investigated a wave of botched bombings the day before and the deadly transit bombings of July 7.

Witnesses said Menezes was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him dead.

While Menezes' relatives said he was working legally in Britain and had no reason to fear police, the BBC said Menezes' visa had expired, suggesting a reason why he might have run.

At a joint news conference in London with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Amorim said the Brazilian Embassy had told him Menezes was living legally in England. Brazilian correspondents also quoted Straw as saying that he understood that Menezes' situation was legal.

Souza said the root cause of Menezes' death was Blair's decision to back the US-led invasion of Iraq. That prompted the wave of terrorist attacks, the mayor said.

Menezes was shot eight times at Stockwell Tube station on Friday, not five times as had previously been reported.

The details of the number of rounds emptied into the 27-year-old Brazilian electrician after his pursuit through Stockwell station by an armed plainclothes squad emerged at the opening of an inquest into his death on Monday.

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