Sat, Dec 21, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Fanatics guilty of UK soldier murder

AFP, LONDON

Rebecca Rigby, center, widow of murdered British soldier Lee Rigby, weeps outside the Old Bailey court in London, England, on Thursday, as a statement is read out of the guilty verdict in the trial against two men — Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22 — accused of the soldier’s murder.

Photo: AFP

Two Muslim extremists were found guilty on Thursday of hacking to death a British soldier in broad daylight on a London street.

Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, ploughed into Lee Rigby with a car before attacking him with knives outside his barracks in May.

Adebolajo tried to behead Rigby with a meat cleaver in front of horrified passers-by.

The pair said they attacked the 25-year-old fusilier to avenge the deaths of Muslims at the hands of British troops.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain was united in condemnation of the killing, which British prosecutors described as “one of the most savage offences ever prosecuted by our counter-terrorism lawyers.”

Rigby’s relatives, who had walked out of the trial several times during harrowing evidence about his death, broke down in tears as the guilty verdicts were given.

Adebolajo kissed his copy of the Koran as he was taken down to the cells at the Old Bailey court in London.

At the same time, jurors cleared Adebolajo and Adebowale of the attempted murder of a police officer.

The pair were shot and wounded by armed police at the murder scene in Woolwich, southeast London, after Adebolajo charged at them waving the meat cleaver, while Adebowale raised a rusty, unloaded gun.

The killers, both Britons who were raised by Nigerian Christian families before converting to Islam, may not be sentenced until next month.

The court heard that they styled themselves as “soldiers of Islam,” but the judge ruled that this could not be used as a defense.

Minutes after the murder, Adebolajo, still wielding the cleaver and with his hands covered in blood, told onlookers the attack was “an eye for an eye.”

“We swear by the almighty Allah, we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone,” he said in a rant filmed on a witness’ mobile phone.

In a police interview after the killing, Adebolajo said he had tried to behead Rigby because it was the most “humane” way of ending his life, comparing it to halal butchery.

The defendants’ lawyers told the court the pair had hoped to become “martyrs” by challenging armed police at the murder scene with the aim of being killed.

The trial heard that they targeted Rigby, who had served in Afghanistan, simply because he was the first soldier they came across.

The murder stunned Britain and sparked a rise in community tensions, with several mosques attacked by arsonists. British Muslim leaders deplored the killing.

The brutal daylight attack also raised questions for British intelligence agencies as Adebolajo was known to the security services, having been arrested in Kenya in 2010 and deported.

Rigby’s family said Islam could not be held responsible for his murder.

“You can’t hold religion responsible for their views,” the soldier’s stepfather, Ian, told ITV television.

“They’re using religion as an excuse for whatever they’ve been brainwashed with,” he said.

He added that his stepson had become “a figurehead to unite the country and bring people back together.”

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