Sunday 24 September 2017

Call me Abu Hamza, says Woolwich murder suspect

Armed police guard Westminster magistrates' court where Michael Adebolajo, inset (sketched) kissing the Koran, appeared. Tom Whitehead and Sam Marsden London

Michael Adebolajo, one of the men accused of murdering Drummer Lee Rigby on a London street, asked to be called Mujaahid Abu Hamza when he appeared in court for the first time yesterday.

The 28-year-old waved, smiled and appeared to blow a kiss to a man in the public gallery – believed to be his brother Jeremiah – as he entered the dock at Westminster magistrates' court clutching a copy of the Koran.

In a white T-shirt and trousers and with his left arm in a cast, he repeatedly spoke out during the short hearing, asking: "May I respond please?" At one point he told Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot that he was "only a man" and wanted to "alleviate the pain".

Adebolajo, of Romford, Essex, is accused with Michael Adebowale (22), of Greenwich, south-east London, of the murder of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich on May 22. Adebowale appeared before a judge at the Old Bailey at the same time, for a second preliminary hearing.

At Westminster, Adebolajo arrived amid high security. He had been charged following nine days in hospital after being shot by police. After an hour's delay, he entered the dock flanked by two plain-clothed police officers and a prison guard.

He initially refused to stand as the magistrate entered the court. Told that it was customary to do so, he replied: "Then I will sit."

The court clerk asked if it was right that he wanted to be known as Mujaahid Abu Hamza, and he said: "That's correct."

Shortly before leaving the dock, he said to the magistrate: "May I respond to you? You would prefer me not to speak to you. I am only a man. I would like to alleviate the pain if I may?"

He kissed the Koran and raised his arm and the man in the gallery made the same gesture.

Both Adebolajo and Adebowale are also charged with the attempted murder of two police officers and possession of a 9.4mm KNIL model 91 revolver, with intent to cause others to believe that violence would be used.

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At the Old Bailey, Adebowale appeared over a video link from Belmarsh, the high-security prison where he is being held, close to where the soldier was attacked outside his barracks.

He wore a green and yellow top over a red T-shirt, and was flanked by two prison officers. He spoke only to confirm his name. There was no bail application and Mr Justice Sweeney remanded him in custody until his next court appearance, alongside Adebolajo.

Both men are due to appear at the Old Bailey on June 28. Neither has entered any pleas.

An inquest into Drummer Rigby's death was opened and adjourned at Southwark coroner's court last week. It heard that the father of one had to be identified from dental records after allegedly being run over by a car and attacked. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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