Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Health, Safety and the Hitman

Like the Metropolitan Police, I'm "concerned and disappointed" with The Crown Prosecution Service's conclusion that Jean Charles de Menezes execution (he was pinned down and shot 7 times in the head and once in the shoulder, from point blank range) contravened health and safety regulations. However, I'm "concerned and disappointed" for slightly different reasons than the police. The cops are "concerned and disappointed" for their own "beleaguered" colleagues; I'm concerned and disappointed for the unfortunate Mr. de Menezes, his family and our ostensibly civilised society.

When a Brazilian electrician, with as much connection to al-Qā'idah/international terror as Celine Dion, gets snuffed "Mafia-style" on the floor of a tube train (by armed police officers injecting seven shots of hot lead directly into his cerebellum), "concern and disappointment" follow as inexorably as death and taxes. On second thoughts, I'm doing Cosa Nostra a disservice here: they're, invariably, more humane and more economical with the ammunition.

"Concern and disappointment", suitably eviscerated almost-emotions, strike me as wholly consistent with, and proportionate to, the Crown Prosecution's micro-response to this tragedy.

I agree with The Independent's Mark Steel. The CPS's decision to recategorise and trivialise this tragic incident as a "health and safety" issue is absurd. The Health and Safety Executive would doubtless insist that, when executing an innocent man with extreme prejudice, the police should avoid discharging loud weapons if not wearing ear muffs. "Because regularly shooting people without adequate ear protection could lead in later life to tinnitus, or even in severe cases partial deafness. "

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