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Friday, August 04, 2006 

What to believe? (Part two.)

The IPCC report into the shooting of Mohammed Abdul Kahar, like the decision by the CPS not to prosecute anyone over the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, does little to answer any of the questions still surrounding the police raid on Forest Gate (Although there are another 2 reports still to come.).

While Kahar maintains that he was 3 feet away from the officer who shot him, referred to in the report as "B6", the forensic report commissioned by the IPCC showed that the gun was fired from a distance of two inches. The report doesn't call Kahar a liar - rather it suggests he is blameless. What appears to have happened is that the two brothers were awakened by the police smashing in. Presuming they were about to be robbed by intruders, they came down the stairs of the house to come face to face with police officers wearing full body suits, including gas masks. The officer claims he shouted "armed police", but admits that this would have been muffled by the suit. The brothers claimed they had no warning, and that one was shot as they ran at the police officers. The IPCC concludes that Kahar was shot accidentally, partly because of the two pairs of gloves that the officer was wearing. The officer says he had a "loss of sensation" in his trigger finger and was unaware he had fired a shot.

The IPCC then seems to have decided that since Kahar was not critically injured that what happened was simply an accident. The police officer's excuse that he lost sensation is brushed over. It's quite possible that Kahar was purely mistaken over where he was when he was shot - the impact of the bullet would have thrust him backwards, and the momentum of running down stairs might have meant that he was leaning over towards the officer - hence why the IPCC considers him blameless. What seems more likely is that the officer panicked with the two brothers coming towards him and fired. There would have been little point in prosecuting him over doing so in the circumstances, but it has to be something which the Met has to learn from.

What is really going to make people cynical though is the "purely coincidental" decision to arrest Kahar yesterday over accusations that child pornography was found on a family computer he used. His solicitors have stated that he "strenuously denies" the charges against him. As Obsolete has noted, there seemed to be an almost co-ordinated campaign to smear and discredit the two brothers, which was mainly conducted in the Murdoch newspapers. The claims in the News of the World that one brother grabbed the gun and shot the other have now been shown to be false. The Sun reported that the brothers' half-brother was a "vicious armed robber" and that he had attended the extremist demonstration over the Danish Mohammad cartoons. It later splashed on the story that £38,000 had been found in the house - later explained by the family as being there because of their religious beliefs - some Muslims considered accounts where interest is paid to be forbidden. The Sun didn't bother asking them for their side of the story, something which seems to be getting a habit, judging by yesterday's apology to Galloway.

Today's Sun report also confuses the officer's statement:

But the IPCC report yesterday said the shooting came as the cop felt someone trying to GRAB his gun.

It doesn't - the officer said he felt someone pulling at his right arm, but he was concerned they were trying to grab the gun. There's a crucial difference. The story also claims the child porn found was of the hardcore variety; a previous report quotes a CPS source as saying it was "high level".

After all the smearing, the failed attempts to find anything, and no doubt police disquiet about having to repair their house and putting them up in a hotel which the Sun claims is costing the taxpayer £20,000 a month, you have to wonder whether the police had to find something. Even more distasteful is the way the Daily Star puts the story on its front page - at the time of the raid the front page was filled with Big Brother crap. With the tabloid hysteria over paedophilia running almost as high as it was back in 2000, suggesting someone is a user of child porn is almost certainly the ultimate attack on a person you can make. Predictably, the tabloids which were certain something was going to be found have lapped it up. Justification will be claimed if the case is proved, even if no terrorist material was.

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