Unanswered questions in the De Menezes case

Smearing the victim is all too common in deaths in custody cases, and it’s about time somebody was held accountable, so I agree with those who say that Ian Blair should resign over the death of Jean Charles De Menezes.

Nevertheless, I wonder whether Blair and the Met are taking the rap for other agencies. For one thing, we know that special forces soldiers were involved in the surveillance.

At 9.33 De Menezes left the flats through the communal door. There
was no way for officers to tell from which flat he came. In fact he had
left flat 17, which was not the suspect address.

One surveillance
officer seconded from the SAS was relieving himself as De Menezes left.
He was codenamed Frank and radioed in to the control room at Scotland
Yard. He said he could not tell whether the person was Osman, but
correctly identified him as white and as not carrying anything. He
said: "It might be worth somebody else having a look." (Vikram Dodd, The Guardian)

Dodd’s piece points to a remarkable number of questions that are still unanswered about the De Menezes case, many of which are also raised by Alex Harrowell:

The first thing that strikes me about this is that we still don’t know
quite a few interesting things about the decisions that led up to the
shooting; for example, why the firearms squad took so long to rock up,
who was responsible for the briefing they received, which appears to
have been little else than an aggression-building pep talk, or who
actually decided to call off the stop outside the tube station. (Yorkshire Ranter)

A lot of this sounding remarkably reminscent of past MI5/Special Forces operations against the IRA, notably the aggressive briefing and the decision not to arrest the target at an early stage. The Loughgall and Gibraltar shootings are notable examples.

There is no shoot-to-kill policy in the sense of a blanket order to shoot IRA terrorists on sight. Rather the knack is to get IRA terrorists, armed and carrying out an operation, to walk into a trap…

…Some of those who have carred out covert operations in Ulster refer to lethal force being used in such a way as to appear fair and within the law as the ‘clean kill.’ (Mark Urban, Big Boys Rules)

Is it possible that somebody decide to go for a clean kill of Hussein Osman on the tube? The parallels are certainly suggestive.

Compared to the Metropolitan Police, there are very few mechanisms to hold other parts of the security forces to account, or even to find out the full extent of their involvement on the day.

The MOD refused to my questions about the role of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment last year. The SAS and MI5 are similarly exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

They are also not subject to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It will be interesting to see how far the IPCC examines their role when its report comes out on Thursday.



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