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Two Muslim ‘converts’ found guilty of murdering UK soldier Acquitted of attempt to murder police officer

LONDON, Dec 19, (Agencies): Two Muslim converts were found guilty on Thursday of murdering a British soldier in broad daylight on a London street, hacking him to death in a gruesome killing that horrified the nation. The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for just 90 minutes before finding Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale guilty of murdering Fusilier Lee Rigby. They were acquitted of attempting to murder a police officer. The two men will be sentenced next year. Neither defendant reacted as the jury foreman announced the verdicts.

Adebolajo, at 29 the elder of the two, smiled and kissed a copy of the Holy Quran as he was led down to the cells. Members of Rigby’s family stood in tears outside London’s Central Criminal Court as a police officer read out a statement on their behalf. “We are satisfied that justice has been done,” the statement said. “But unfortunately no amount of justice will bring Lee back.” Adebolajo and 22-year-old Adebowale had pleaded not guilty to murder, though neither denied taking part in the May 22 attack. The 25-year-old Rigby was returning on foot to his barracks in south London when he was hit by a car, then stabbed and nearly decapitated. Adebolajo was filmed by a passer-by moments after the attack, covered in blood and holding a cleaver and a knife, justifying the killing as revenge for British troops killing people abroad. “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” he said repeatedly on the video.

Adebolajo later told the police, in an interview played in court, that Rigby had been targeted because “he was the soldier that was spotted first.” Adebowale, who has suffered mental health issues since his arrest, chose to present no evidence in his defense during the three-week trial. His lawyer, Abbas Lakha, told the jury that his client agreed with Adebolajo’s description of the attack as a “military operation” and the two men as soldiers. After the attack the two killers waited at the scene, charged a police car as it arrived a few minutes later, and were shot and wounded by officers. Both men had denied trying to kill a police officer.

Lakha said Adebowale had brandished a 90- year-old unloaded pistol to ensure police would shoot them and they “would achieve martyrdom.” Armed officers shot Adebojalo in the leg and Adebowale in the hand, then gave the men first aid. The savagery of the crime, Adebolajo’s bloodthirsty rhetoric — delivered in a London accent — and the ordinary working-day surroundings all helped make the killing a crime that inflamed fears of Islamic extremist terrorism in Britain. It was followed by a spate of attacks on mosques and Islamic centers, and by protests from farright groups.

The attack also raised questions about whether Britain’s intelligence services could have done more to prevent Rigby’s killing, as both suspects had been known to them from earlier inquiries. Adebolajo, who comes from a Christian family and converted to Islam in his teens, was arrested in November 2010 near the Kenya- Somalia border and eventually returned to Britain. Kenyan officials said he intended to join an Islamic militant group in Somalia.

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