30th May, 2013
One of the chief suspects in the brutal killing of a British soldier on a London street appeared in court on Thursday charged with murder and possession of a firearm.
Michael Adebowale, 22, spoke only to confirm his name and address at the brief hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, before being taken back into custody.
Another man, Michael Adebolajo, 28, has also been arrested but remains in hospital after he and Adebowale were shot by police at the scene of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby on 22 May.
Rigby was hacked to death in broad daylight near his barracks in Woolwich, southeast London.
Adebowale, a British man of Nigerian descent from Greenwich, near Woolwich, was taken to court in an armoured van in a convoy of police cars.
He limped as he walked into the court and held his right hand close to his body.
Adebowale was also treated in hospital and was discharged on Tuesday before being formally charged late Wednesday.
Handcuffed and wearing a grey sweater and white trousers, he was flanked by two police officers and two security guards as he stood in the glass dock to hear the charges against him.
Asked to confirm his name, address and date of birth, the suspect calmly replied: “Yes.”
He is accused of murder and of possessing a revolver with intent to cause others to believe that violence would be used.
Prosecutor Bethan David told the court the charges fell under the jurisdiction of terrorism legislation. The next hearing in the case was set for Monday at the Old Bailey criminal court.
Both suspects were filmed and photographed at the murder scene by witnesses, but legal restrictions prohibit the reporting of further details from the attack.
Another eight people have been arrested by counter-terrorism police as part of the investigation. Two women were released without charge and six men were released on bail.
A post-mortem examination found on Wednesday that Rigby, a machine-gunner who had served with British forces in Afghanistan in 2009, died of multiple cut and stab wounds.
A formal hearing into the young father’s death will open at Southwark Coroner’s Court in London on Friday.
Rigby’s fiancee, Aimee West, said she was “devastated” by the murder and was moved by the piles of flowers and tributes that have been left near the Woolwich barracks.
The murder has sparked a political row over whether new measures are needed to deal with Islamic extremism in Britain.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government dropped legislation to give the security services access to emails and social media messages because of divisions within the coalition.
Home Secretary Theresa May, a member of Cameron’s Conservative party, wants to revive the so-called “snooper’s charter”, saying it was “essential” to the work of the intelligence agencies.
But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat junior coalition partners, said Thursday that some of the measures proposed were “disproportionate” and unworkable.
He also rejected calls for radical Islamic preachers to be banned from appearing on television news, warning that governments often came to regret “knee-jerk” reactions.