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United Kingdom judge rejects man's 'soldier of Allah' defense

By Jill Lawless

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 17 2013 10:27 a.m. MST

LONDON — A U.K. judge has told the jury trying two men for the slaying of a British soldier to reject one suspect's defense that he was a "soldier of Allah."

A prosecution lawyer on Tuesday called the crime "indefensible."

Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, face charges of murder as well as the attempted murder of a police officer. Both men have pleaded not guilty to murdering soldier Lee Rigby, who was run over by a car, then stabbed and nearly decapitated as he walked near his London barracks on May 22.

Adebolajo has admitted to the killing but says it was not murder because he is a "soldier of Allah" engaged in a war. His lawyer, David Gottlieb, said Adebolajo should have faced a charge of "treason, terrorism or maybe manslaughter" instead.

Gottlieb told the jury at London's Central Criminal Court that they "genuinely have a choice" to acquit Adebolajo, who was recorded on video just after the slaying holding a cleaver and knife and saying his actions were revenge for British troops killing people abroad.

But Judge Nigel Sweeney told jurors that nothing Adebolajo had said in court was a valid defense against a murder charge.

In closing statements, prosecution lawyer Richard Whittam said "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," Whittam said.

He added that "Islam, one of the world's great religions, is not on trial, nor could it be."

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