LONDON — Two men accused of hacking an off-duty British soldier to death on a South London street last month appeared in separate courts for hearings today as politicians planned to meet with security and police chiefs to discuss ways of confronting what the government has termed the “poisonous narrative” of militant radicalization.
The men, Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, both of Nigerian descent, face murder charges in the May 22 death of the soldier, Lee Rigby, 25, a military drummer and machine-gunner who had served with British forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere. After the soldier’s killing, both suspects were shot and wounded by police.
Adebowale was formally charged with murder last week, and Adebolajo appeared in a magistrate’s court today to be formally arraigned. He was also charged with other offenses, including the attempted murder of two police officers and possession of a revolver, identified as a 9.4 mm KNIL model 91.
Weapons experts said the revolver is a large-bore, antique handgun first manufactured in the Netherlands in the late 19th century.
According to reporters in the Westminster Magistrates Court, Adebolajo was wearing a white T-shirt and blew a kiss to an unidentified man in the public gallery. Both men then pointed to the sky.
His left arm was bandaged and held a copy of the Quran. As is customary in a British court, he was asked to stand to face the charges and replied: “May I ask why? May I ask why?”
“I want to sit,” he said, according to The Press Association news agency. Adebolajo finally rose to his feet, but at the end of the brief hearing he asked the magistrate, Emma Arbuthnot: “I would like to alleviate the pain if I may?”
He kissed the Quran and raised his arm into the air. Adebolajo was ordered to appear at a higher court within 48 hours.
For his part, Adebowale appeared at the Old Bailey criminal court and was told he would return for a preliminary hearing June 28 when the cases against both men would be heard together. He did not seek bail, news reports said.