British policeman will face trial over G20 protest death

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A British police officer accused of killing a newspaper seller during the London G20 protests in 2009 was on Monday ordered to stand trial.

Riot squad officer Simon Harwood will face trial charged with the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson, a 47-year-old homeless man who collapsed and died on the fringes of the protest.

"Your case is sent for trial at the Central Criminal Court" in London, more commonly known as the Old Bailey, said judge Howard Riddle during a brief hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in the capital.

Harwood, a 44-year-old father of two, spoke only to confirm his age, name and address and was bailed until a procedural hearing on October 17.

Prosecutors had initially said they would not press charges against Harwood but changed their mind after reviewing evidence from an inquest into Tomlinson's death which ruled last month that he was unlawfully killed.

Tomlinson 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. He 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.

His death drew worldwide attention after a businessman handed footage he had taken of the confrontation with police to the Guardian newspaper.

Hand-held video recordings and CCTV images of Tomlinson in the moments before he died show him staggering away from a police cordon after the confrontation.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer initially decided not to prosecute Harwood because of conflicting medical evidence about how Tomlinson died.

But he reversed this decision in the light of new evidence at the inquest and tougher scrutiny of expert advice in the case.

© 2011 AFP

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