Man accused of killing UK soldier in court

2013-05-30 13:07
A police van believed to be transporting 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, a suspect in the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby, arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London. (Lefteris Pitarakis, AP)

A police van believed to be transporting 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, a suspect in the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby, arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London. (Lefteris Pitarakis, AP)

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London — A man accused of killing a British soldier in London appeared in court to confirm his name, address and date of birth.

Michael Adebowale, aged 22, was handcuffed during the brief appearance on Wednesday. He was allowed to sit down while giving information because he is still recovering from being shot by police.

He is one of two men suspected of attacking Lee Rigby. The other, 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo, remains hospitalised and has not been charged.

The daylight attack on Rigby by two men wielding knives and meat cleavers has raised tensions in Britain. It is being seen as a possible terror attack by Muslim extremists.

Security was extremely tight for Adebowale's first court appearance.

He is scheduled to be back in court Monday for another hearing and remains in custody.

Firearms offences

Adebowale was charged late on Wednesday night, two days after he was released from hospital.

He was also charged with a firearms offense related to possessing a 9.4mm revolver with the intent "to cause persons to believe that unlawful violence would be used", police said in a statement announcing the charges.

Autopsy results made public on Wednesday indicated that Rigby, aged 25, was first struck by a car and then attacked. He died of multiple stab wounds, the report said.

Witnesses reported seeing the soldier struck by a car, then set upon by two men wielding long knives and cleavers. Adebolajo, bloodied and clutching a cleaver, was seen in a video boasting about the attack and railing against the government.

Both prime suspects were shot by police who arrived on the scene roughly 14 minutes after the soldier's death. Video showed two suspects rushing a police car that arrived on the scene, then being shot by police and given first aid on the ground.

Britain's Home Office confirmed Thursday that the Greenwich area, which includes the attack site in Woolwich, was deemed in a 2011 governmental review to be at a low risk of extremist activity and so did not receive anti-terror funding under a government programme, called Prevent.

Al-Qaeda links

This designation was reversed a year later, meaning anti-terror projects there could again be funded, but no proposals for that area were approved in that time frame. Before 2011, the funding was used to bring young people into contact with Muslim soldiers and other veterans. Other funded programmes encouraged sports, art and discussion programmes.

The Prevent plan, part of a broader anti-terror strategy run by the Home Office, depends in part on the belief that "radicalisation and recruitment can be identified and then provided with support" that keeps vulnerable individuals from embracing militant viewpoints, its website states.

The goal is to intervene and halt the radicalisation process before a crime is committed and police become involved.

British officials said the two main suspects had been known to them for some time as part of previous investigations. The attack has raised questions about whether Britain's intelligence services could have done more to prevent Rigby's murder.

Kenyan police have said they believed Adebolajo, a British citizen, had earlier associated with a radical Kenyan Muslim cleric who tried to help him join an al-Qaeda-linked rebel group in neighbouring Somalia.

Adebolajo was arrested with five other young men in November 2010 near the Kenya-Somalia border and eventually returned to Britain, police in Kenya said.

British officials said the two main suspects had been known to them for some time as part of previous investigations. The attack has raised questions about whether Britain's intelligence services could have done more to prevent Rigby's murder.

Read more on:    london soldier attack

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