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Straw 'very sorry' over shooting

Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by police Friday.


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Great Britain

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Saying he is "very, very sorry" over last week's mistaken shooting of an unarmed Brazilian, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Monday said a compensation claim for the slain man's family would be "handled sympathetically and quickly."

Straw also said the British government is working to expedite the release of the body of 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes, who was shot eight times by plainclothes police who chased him into a London Underground station Friday, the day after four attempted bombings on the city's transit system.

Straw met Monday with his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, to offer the government's apology.

"I profoundly regret the circumstances in which we had to hold this meeting," Straw said in a joint news conference with Amorim. "I would personally like take this opportunity to offer my own condolences to Mr. Menezes' family and friends, and condolences to the Brazilian government and people."

Amorim said he had received guarantees from British authorities that the investigation would be "far reaching." He said that while it is "impossible to bring Menezes back," the "humble" family should receive a compensation package for the accidental shooting.

"It would not lessen the shock and concern, but it would be something concrete in addition to the apologies," Amorim said.

Straw said he has been informed the the claim "would be handled sympathetically and quickly."

Amorim also said that combating terrorism "has to be done with full respect for human rights."

"If things happen the way that they happened this time, it may play into the hands of terrorists," he said.

Amorim said the Brazilian Embassy had told him Menezes was living legally in England. Straw said: "I don't have any precise information about his immigration status here. My understanding is that he was here lawfully."

De Menezes was shot and killed Friday at the Stockwell Underground train station after police followed him from a house in Stockwell that was under surveillance as part of the investigation into four attempted bombings on the transit system on Thursday.

A police statement said his "clothing and suspicious behavior at the station added to" officers' suspicions, and Police Chief Ian Blair said de Menezes challenged police and refused to obey orders.

The police apologized for the incident, but members of de Menezes' family said an apology was not enough.

Authorities Monday revealed de Menezes was shot eight times, but it was not disclosed what parts of his body were hit by the gunfire.

The information came from the Southwark Coroners Court, where a formal inquiry into de Menezes' death began.

The investigation was begun by the Directorate of Professional Standards and transferred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Scotland Yard said it had handed over more than 100 witness statements and more than 200 other documents to the commission.

Nick Hardwick, chairman of the IPCC, said it could take months to complete the investigation.

"This is about a search for the truth," he said in an interview on CNN's Newsnight with Aaron Brown.

"We don't start with an assumption that someone's at fault here. We start from the assumption that the family need to know what happened and we're going to do our utmost to give them the answers," Hardwick added. "If there's been wrongdoing, we'll hold people to account. If there's lessons to be learned we'll make sure they're learned."

The chairman said the investigation will look at the "overall context in which (the shooting) took place, the security context and trying to make some judgments about what went wrong."

The IPCC is not connected to the British police, but answers to the parliament and the country's courts.

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