A London court has jailed the killer of a British soldier for life, sentencing his accomplice to a minimum of 45 years in prison. Muslim converts Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale killed Lee Rigby last May.
Adebolajo received a whole life sentence at London's Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, on Wednesday, while Adebowale was ordered to spend a minimum of 45 years behind bars. The men were convicted in December for killing serviceman Lee Rigby, striking him with a car before repeatedly stabbing him in front of witnesses outside a barracks on a street in Woolwich in the southeast of London.
The whole life sentence passed down for Adebolajo by Judge Nigel Sweeney is more severe than an ordinary life sentence; it only allows for release at the discretion of the home secretary (interior minister) under exceptional circumstances. Sentencing had been delayed in order to clarify whether a European Court of Human Rights ruling still permitted the UK to impose such a term.
The men were sentenced in absentia on Wednesday, having been dragged from the courtroom at the start of sentencing after shouting over the judge and then scuffling with security guards in the dock.
Judge Sweeney described the pair's actions in Woolwich last year as "sickening and pitiless."
During testimony, the two Muslim converts had said that they killed Rigby on May 22 in retaliation for British military missions in Muslim countries. Rigby, 25 when he was killed, had served in Afghanistan.
The involvement of Adebolajo, a 29-year-old father of six, and Adebowale, 22, in Rigby's killing had never really been in doubt. Video footage circulated on the Internet last May showing a blood-soaked Adebolajo holding a knife and meat clever at the scene of the crime trying to defend his actions to passers-by. The killing was followed by an increase in attacks on perceived Muslim targets in the UK, such as mosques and community centers.
msh/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)