LONDON, Jun 2 – British counter-terrorism police charged a second Muslim convert with murder over the brutal hacking to death of a soldier on a London street.
Michael Adebolajo, 28, has been charged with the murder of 25-year-old soldier Lee Rigby as well as the attempted murder of two police officers and possession of a firearm, London’s Metropolitan Police said.
He will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Monday.
Adebolajo was one of two Muslim converts of Nigerian descent who were shot by police at the scene of the killing near Rigby’s barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, on May 22.
He and the other suspect, 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, were taken to separate hospitals under armed guard.
Adebolajo was released from hospital on Friday and questioned for a day by counter-terrorism officers before being charged.
Adebowale was also charged with murder and possessing a firearm after leaving hospital on Tuesday.
Both suspects were raised by Christian Nigerian families in London.
The pair were filmed and photographed at the murder scene by witnesses, but legal restrictions prohibit the reporting of further details of the attack.
An inquest into Rigby’s death heard that he was run over by a car before being attacked by two men armed with a cleaver and a knife, on a quiet suburban street in the middle of the afternoon.
Adebowale made his first court appearance on Thursday, speaking only to confirm his name and address before being taken back into custody.
He is due to appear for a bail application at London’s Old Bailey court on Monday, ahead of a pre-trial hearing on June 28.
Ten other people have been arrested in connection with the case, including two women who have been released without charge.
The murder is the first fatal Islamist attack in Britain since suicide bombers killed 52 people in the London transport network in 2005.
In France, a recent convert to Islam was charged on Friday with stabbing a soldier in a busy commercial complex last weekend.
Rigby’s family have called for calm following a number of attacks on British mosques and a rise in anti-Muslim incidents since the shocking murder.
On Saturday, dozens of people were arrested in London as far-right activists, marching in Rigby’s memory, faced off with anti-fascist demonstrators.
Scotland Yard said 58 people from the Unite Against Fascism pressure group were arrested after they gathered to oppose a rally by the far-right British National Party (BNP) near the Houses of Parliament.
There were a couple of minor scuffles at the demonstration, with one BNP supporter suffering from a bleeding nose, but the groups were mainly restricted to trading chants as police separated them behind metal barricades.
The BNP had hoped to march in Woolwich but were banned from doing so by the police, fearing public disorder.
Many of their protesters carried the British flag and some had signs saying “Hate Preachers Out”.
“Britain is a tinderbox waiting to explode,” BNP leader Nick Griffin told AFP.
“We are here — I hope — starting a debate to point out the only way out, or the best way to get peace, is to disengage so there’s a peace treaty between the West and Islam.
“We leave their lands — we stop attacking them, we stop bombing their wedding parties — and in turn, they leave ours. Then we can have peace.”
He added: “We absolutely agree with what Lee Rigby’s family said that nobody should use his death as an excuse or a reason to attack anybody else.”
Anti-fascist demonstrators held up banners reading “Say no to Islamophobia”.
“They’re trying to take advantage of the very sad murder of a young soldier,” UAF chair Steve Hart told AFP.
“We don’t allow the BNP on the streets without opposition.
“In this city, London, the vast majority of the population supports multiculturalism. We’re a multicultural city. We like it, we love it, it’s the way we want to live.”