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UK court begins inquests over 2005 London transit bombings

A UK court began inquests Monday into the July 2005 London transit bombings [JURIST report; JURIST news archive] that killed 52 people and injured 700 others. Lady Justice Hallett is presiding over the inquests [Guardian report] with the victims' families to determine whether each death was the result of an unlawful killing under British law. The main issue is whether some of the victims could have been saved if not for a delay in the response by emergency services due to confusion over what was happening during the bombings. Though there have been prior investigations, the inquests were the first time that the victims' families could hear the whole story. During the inquests it was revealed that the four suicide bombers—Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer, Hasib Hussain and Jermaine Lindsay—had originally planned to commit the bombings the day before, coinciding with the announcement that London was chosen to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. The purpose of the inquests [BBC report] is to find out what happened and determine what could have been done differently in both responding to and preventing the bombings.

The inquests were delayed five years by the police investigation and a criminal trial of three other men suspected of being involved. The three others were later acquitted of involvement in the bombings, but two of them were found guilty and sentenced on lesser charges [JURIST reports]. Last April, lawyers for victims of the July 7 bombings argued [JURIST report] in the Royal Courts of Justice that UK authorities possessed information that could have helped them prevent the attacks. The theory for the case is built on intelligence that British security service MI5 [official website] and the London police had uncovered about the four suicide bombers prior to the attacks. In 2008, The UK Court of Appeal rejected an appeal [JURIST report] by four men convicted for plotting a failed similar bombing [JURIST news archive] supposed to occur two weeks afterward on July 21, 2005.

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