INTERNATIONAL

U.K. police chief under pressure

Hasan Suroor

LONDON: Britain's police chief Ian Blair was on Thursday facing calls to resign after it emerged that he tried to stop an independent inquiry into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian, who was shot dead by armed officers in a south London tube station on July 22 on suspicion of carrying explosives.

Within hours of the incident that shocked the nation, Sir Ian wrote to the Home Office suggesting that an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which automatically inquires into such cases, might affect the investigations into the July 7 and 21 bomb incidents in London.

Police confirmed that Sir Ian wanted to "clarify'' the role of the IPCC as he believed that the anti-terror investigations took "precedence'' over such an inquiry at the time.

But the Home Office rejected his view and insisted that any delay in an independent inquiry would destroy the credibility of IPCC.

Shocking errors

The disclosure came even as Sir Ian was already under pressure after leaked documents on Wednesday revealed a series of shocking errors and misjudgements by his men when they shot dead Menezes minutes after he got on to a train at Stockwell station.

Lawyers for Menezes' s family said the documents showed that the police gave a false and misleading account of the circumstances surrounding the killing of the 27-year-old Brazilian electrician.

Relatives and friends of Menezes said they had lost confidence in the inquiry and released a set of questions they wanted the police to answer.

They demanded Sir Ian's resignation saying that he was "ultimately responsible'' for the actions of his officers.

An Italian court agreed to the British request for the extradition of Hussain Osman, one of the suspects behind the July 21 attempted bombings.

Osman, who was arrested in Rome, was expected to challenge the court decision.