British policeman to be charged over G20 protest death

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Britain's top prosecutor said Tuesday a policeman would be charged with manslaughter over the death of a man caught up in the London G20 protests, reversing an earlier decision not to prosecute.

Riot squad officer Simon Harwood will face court after a review of evidence from a recent inquest into Ian Tomlinson's death that ruled he was unlawfully killed, Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said.

"There is now sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of successfully prosecuting PC Simon Harwood for the manslaughter of Mr Tomlinson," Starmer told reporters in London.

"That being the case, it is clearly in the public interest that criminal proceedings be brought."

Harwood would appear in court on June 20, he added.

Tomlinson, 47, a homeless newspaper seller with a history of alcoholism, collapsed and died after getting caught up in a rally by anti-capitalist protesters in the City of London financial district on April 1, 2009.

Tomlinson was not one of the protesters.

The demonstrators had gathered ahead of the Group of 20 summit in London, attended by world leaders including US President Barack Obama, but the protest turned violent and riot police were sent in.

Starmer said he had originally decided not to prosecute Harwood, who is accused of hitting Tomlinson with a baton and shoving him to the ground, because of conflicting medical evidence about how the victim died.

But in the light of new evidence at the inquest, and tougher scrutiny of expert advice provided in the case, he said this had changed.

© 2011 AFP

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