LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Adebowale, 22, appeared in a London court on Thursday charged with the killing of a British soldier on a busy London street last week, which the prosecutor said would be tried as a terrorist act.
Adebowale was charged late on Wednesday with the murder of Lee Rigby, a 25-year-old serving soldier, in Woolwich in south-east London on May 22. He also faces a charge of possessing a firearm, a 9.4mm revolver, with intent to cause others to believe that violence would be used.
Prosecutor Bethan David told the court the alleged offence fell under the scope of terrorism legislation.
Looking dazed and limping slightly, Adebowale appeared in handcuffs in the glass-fronted dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court wearing white trousers and a light grey sweatshirt.
He was flanked by two plainclothes policemen and there were two court security guards in the dock as well.
Asked to confirm his name and address in Greenwich in south-east London, he said only “yes”. The two charges were then read out to him during the hearing, which lasted less than five minutes.
He did not enter a plea, as is normal at this stage under British law.
Adebowale was arrested at the scene along with another man, Michael Adebolajo, 28. Both men were shot by police and taken to hospital where they stayed under armed guard.
Adebowale was discharged from hospital on Tuesday and has been in police custody since. Adebolajo remains in hospital.
Judge Howard Riddle sent Adebowale’s case to London’s Central Criminal Court, known as the Old Bailey, for trial. Adebowale will appear there for a bail hearing on Monday. A further pre-trial hearing is scheduled for June 28.
Rigby, a veteran of the Afghan war, died at the scene of the attack, which took place in broad daylight. A post-mortem gave the cause of death as “multiple incised wounds”.
Prime Minister David Cameron called the attack “a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country”, and vowed that Britain would never give in to terrorism in any of its forms.
Editing by Sonya Hepinstall