Hundreds of relatives and friends of the Brazilian shot dead by police in London after being mistaken for a terrorist marched along the cobbled streets of his home town, demanding the arrest of the officers who fired the fatal shots.
Some of the protesters in Gonzaga held banners denouncing British police as the real terrorists.
Other placards were adorned with snapshots of Jean Charles de Menezes, urging British Prime Minister Tony Blair to send his body home so it could be buried.
All said Blair’s apology yesterday did not go far enough.
“Apologies don’t help, we want justice,” they chanted, stopping briefly to offer a prayer for the 27-year-old electrician who left Brazil to work in Britain so he could return home with enough savings to start a cattle ranch.
Menezes’ killing has been the top story on radio and television broadcasts since Sunday, although there has been no large-scale public outcry.
In London, foreign minister Celso Amorim said he had instructions from President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva “to take firm measures to defend the interests of the family of a Brazilian who died in an absurd manner”.
The militant Landless Rural Workers’ Movement has planned protests today in front of the British Embassy in Brasilia and the consulate in Rio de Janeiro.
The movement said in a statement that Menezes “was assassinated in cold blood, a victim of intolerance”, and called for the British withdrawal from Iraq.
Gonzaga’s mayor, outraged over news Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder, called the killing an “assassination”.
“It’s easy for Blair to apologise, but it doesn’t mean very much,” said Julio de Souza. “What happened to English justice and England, a place where police patrol unarmed?”
Many were angry that there was still no word on when the body might be shipped back to Gonzaga, a central Brazilian town of 6,000 where young men often head to the United States and Europe to finance a better life back home.
Menezes was killed last Friday, and Brazilians traditionally bury their dead no later than 24 hours after a person dies.
Governor Aecio Neves of Minas Gerais, the rural state where the electrician was born, said the government would pay to fly his body back to Brazil for burial.
The march ended in front of the town hall, where the Brazilian flag hung at half-mast and a large black sheet was hung from the second floor as a sign of mourning.
Menezes was killed in a London Tube station as police investigated a wave of botched bombings the day before and the deadly bombings of July 7.
Witnesses said Menezes was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a carriage, pinned him to the ground and shot him dead.
Souza said the root cause of Menezes’ death was Blair’s decision to back the US-led invasion of Iraq. That prompted the wave of terrorist attacks, the mayor said.
“Gonzaga has nothing to do with terrorism and now it’s been hit,” Souza said.
“Jean could have come back here and become a father, but now we’ll never have a chance to have him with us again.”