UK police shot "aggressive" Brazilian -court

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LONDON, Oct 26 (Reuters) A Brazilian man shot dead two years ago by British police who thought he was a suicide bomber, had been acting in an ''aggressive and threatening manner'' when confronted by officers, a London court heard today.

The killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, who was gunned down as he boarded an underground train in south London, was a ''terrible accident'', said the lawyer defending the capital's force which is on trial for breaking health and safety laws.

However, the electrician had been behaving in a manner similar to that of a potential suicide bomber and the police were not to blame, Ronald Thwaites told the Old Bailey court.

De Menezes was shot seven times in the head on July 22, 2005, by officers who had wrongly identified him as one of four men who tried to attack London's transport system the day before.

Those botched bombings came just two weeks after four young British Islamists blew themselves up and 52 people on three underground trains and a bus.

Thwaites said that de Menezes may have failed to comply with officers because he thought he was carrying drugs in his pocket or had a forged stamp in his passport.

''He was shot because when he was challenged by police he did not comply with them but reacted precisely as they had been briefed a suicide bomber might react at the point of detonating his bomb,'' the lawyer said. ''Furthermore he looked like the suspect and he had behaved suspiciously.

''He moved in an aggressive and threatening manner as interpreted by the police and as would be interpreted by you and me in those circumstances, less than 24 hours after an attempt to bomb the underground and a bus had taken place.'' Thwaites also criticised prosecutors for bringing the case to court, accusing them of ''dirty tricks''.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service decided last year there was insufficient evidence to charge any individual officers involved in the operation but instead brought a corporate case against London's Metropolitan Police force.

Prosecutors have told the trial that ''shocking and catastrophic blunders'' led to de Menezes's death and had also put members of the public at risk.

REUTERS SS RAI1909

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