Soldier was hacked to death near his barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, on May 22, triggering anti-Muslim demonstrations from right-wing groups and attempted firebombings of mosques.
British soldier Lee Rigby’s murder accused
LONDON // Two British Muslim converts go on trial tomorrow charged with the brutal murder of a soldier in broad daylight on a London street.
Lee Rigby, 25, was hacked to death near his barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, on May 22, triggering anti-Muslim demonstrations from right-wing groups and attempted firebombings of mosques.
Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, both Britons of Nigerian descent, deny the murder charges.
Mr Adebolajo – who has said he wants to be known in court as Mujaahid Abu Hamza – is also accused of the attempted murder of two police officers and possessing a revolver.
Mr Adebowale, who is listed as Ismail Ibn Abdullah in court documents, is also charged with firearms possession.
Armed police attended the scene of the bloody attack and horrified onlookers filmed the incident and its aftermath on their mobile phones.
But under British law, stringent reporting conditions surround the case until the evidence is presented in court.
The three-week trial will take place at the Old Bailey court in London under tight security, amid fears of a repeat of tensions seen in the days and weeks following the murder.
Two far-right groups – the British National Party and the English Defence League – staged a series of demonstrations and were often confronted by anti-fascist protesters.
Monitoring groups say they recorded a sharp spike in verbal and sometimes physical attacks on Muslims as a result of the Woolwich murder.
A group claiming to be opposed to the “Islamification of the UK” is planning a demonstration outside the court.
Rigby, a drummer in the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, had served a tour of duty in Afghanistan before taking up a post in army recruitment.
Mr Adebolajo claims he has been abused in jail. It is alleged he was pushed against a wall while being restrained in the high-security Belmarsh prison in London.
Five prison staff were suspended over the alleged incident in which Mr Adebolajo reportedly lost two teeth.
* Agence France-Presse