The families of people shot dead by police in Britain have called for a public inquiry to look at the role of soldiers from the new Special Reconnaissance Regiment in the death of Jean Charles De Menezes.
Relatives of De Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead by police in London on 22 July, were among those backing the demand last Saturday at a public meeting organised by the United Friends and Families Campaign (UFFC).
In a statement, the UFFC said “There has been a mistaken impression in the media that the police ‘shoot to kill policy’ is new and a response to the increased threat of terrorism. But armed officers have been shooting dead members of the public for years and all these deaths have been extremely controversial.”
“What is new is the change in tactics known as Operation Kratos.”
Citing a series of leaks to the media, The UFFC said the new tactics are based “in part on consultation with Israeli and Sri Lankan law enforcement agencies on how to deal with ‘deadly and determined’ attackers.”
“The decision to look to overseas military experience almost certainly reflects the ever closer relationship between an increasingly militarised police and the newly-created Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), a special forces unit specialising in covert surveillance that honed its trade over many years in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, even if the Government relents and allows a public inquiry into Jean Charles De Menezes’ killing, it is almost certain that the involvement of SRR soldiers will be excluded from the Inquiry’s remit. That makes it all the more important that we know what role they played.”
The SRR was created earlier this year with personnel from surveillance units operating in the North, including the 14 Intelligence Company and possibly the Force Research Unit implicated in the killing of Pat Finucane.
Whitehall sources have reportedly admitted the SRR was involved in tailing Jean Charles De Menezes on his way to Stockwell tube station, but have denied suggestions the unit was involved in killing the 27-year-old electrician, who was shot seven times in the head after being restrained by a surveillance officer.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair last week admitted he may yet have to resign over the De Menezes shooting. He may face further pressure this Thursday when the Crown Prosecution Service decides whether to prosecute the firearms officers who shot dead Harry Stanley in September 1999.
Stanley, a Scotsman, was killed in an East London street by police officers who had been told he was Irish and the table-leg he was carrying was a shotgun.
His widow Eileen told Saturday’s meeting: “We’ve got to do something to stop these shootings. I want to go to a meeting and not see new faces.”
[This article was originally published in the Irish World]