'Soldier of Allah' no defence in UK troop murder: judge

17th December 2013, Comments 0 comments

A suspect's claim that he was a "soldier of Allah" is no defence in law to the charge of brutally murdering a British serviceman on a London street, the judge in his trial ruled Tuesday.

Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of running over soldier Lee Rigby in a car, then hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives.

The prosecution and defence summed up their cases on Tuesday, as the trial at the Old Bailey court in London moved towards a conclusion.

Prosecutors said killing to make a political point was still murder and was indefensible in English law.

But Adebolajo's lawyer David Gottlieb said a human being "can do the most evil act in the world and not actually be evil themselves".

Judge Nigel Sweeney told the jury that Adebolajo's testimony did not amount to a defence in law to murder.

"I have ruled that nothing said by the first defendant and... his evidence -- in short he was a soldier of Allah and was justified in doing what he did -- amounts in law to a defence to this count," he said.

He told the jurors that the charge of conspiracy to murder a police officer, which both defendants faced, had now been dropped.

They remain accused of murdering Rigby and the attempted murder of a police officer on May 22 this year.

The trial has heard they tried to decapitate Rigby in broad daylight outside his barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, to avenge the deaths of Muslims abroad.

Adebolajo told the trial earlier this month that he loves Al-Qaeda and considers the Islamic militants to be his "brothers".

Adebowale gave no evidence.

In his closing speech Tuesday, prosecutor Richard Whittam said: "Islam, one of the world's great religions, is not on trial."

The jury were shown again images of bloodied knives, and a video clip showing Rigby being knocked down by a car and then dragged into the road.

"Is this a humane killing?", Whittam asked.

He concluded: "What these two men did, crashing their car and breaking the back of Lee Rigby and then killing him is indefensible in the law of this country.

"Killing to make a political point, to frighten the public, to put pressure on the government or as an expression of anger is murder and remains murder whether the government in question is a good one, a bad one, or a dreadful one."

In his closing speech in defence of Adebolajo, Gottlieb said: "Do you think really that this is the cruellest, most sadistic, most callous, most cowardly killing that's ever occurred in our nation's history? It isn't."

He suggested Adebolajo was "the most law-abiding terrorist in the history of this country" and recalled he had paid for a parking ticket moments before the alleged murder.

Gottlieb said the jury was under pressure "from outside, from the mob, from the world, to convict", but the prosecution case "lacks any sense of proportion or of ridiculousness".

He claimed the attempted murder charge was "possibly the most ridiculous charge ever" as Adebolajo had not attacked unarmed officers but waited for the armed response unit.

The prosecution could not accept that Adebolajo may have been motivated by "a noble idea", and had attacked "a symbol of the state", Gottlieb said.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.


© 2013 AFP

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