Michael Adebowale, 22, was the front seat passenger in the car that rammed the soldier before he got out of the damaged car and attacked the prone man’s body with knives, witnesses have told the court. His co-defendant, Michael Adebolajo, 29, claimed earlier this week that he was a soldier of Allah fighting a war because British troops were in Muslim countries.
He accepts that he attacked Fusilier Rigby, 25, near Woolwich barracks, southeast London, and tried to cut off his head with a cleaver. But he claimed that he pulled Mr Adebowale away from the body when the younger man started attacking him because the soldier was already dead.
Mr Adebowale’s legal team said yesterday that it would not be calling any other witnesses for his defence. “The evidence is now over. It means that the second defendant has chosen neither to give nor to call any evidence,” the trial judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, told the jury of eight women and four men. “You are not to draw any inference adverse to him from the fact that he has chosen not to give evidence.”
Mr Adebowale had claimed that the two men argued over who would carry the gun because they believed that the person who had the gun was more likely to be killed by police and achieve their goal of martyrdom. “To be killed on the battlefield is not something we shy away from and in fact this is something that Allah loves,” he told police during interviews played to the court last week. He said that he had “obeyed the command of Allah” to kill a serviceman.
The man accused of killing and trying to behead Fusilier Lee Rigby declared his love for al-Qaida in court on Monday and claimed he was a soldier for Allah in an ongoing war against the British military.
“I’m a soldier and this is war,” said Mr Adebolajo in evidence to the court on Monday. “Basically it is a war between Islam and those militaries that invade Muslim lands. One of them just happens to be the British military and therefore the war continues even to this day.”
Seated just yards from the family of his victim, Michael Adebolajo, 28, told the Old Bailey that he had no regrets about launching the attack on the defenceless soldier as he crossed the road near his barracks in Woolwich, south-east London. “I will never regret obeying the command of Allah so that’s all I can say,” he told a packed courtroom. “I’m a mujahid, I’m a soldier: I do what Allah commands me to do. I can’t do anything else.”
During comments directed towards the Rigby family, Mr Adebolajo accepted that he killed somebody that they loved. “I just hope that soldier’s life and his death might prevent the deaths of other soldiers who are being sent to die in unjust wars and save the lives of Muslims who are being bombed and killed by British forces,” he said.
Mr Adebolajo and Mr Adebowale both deny murder and attempted murder of a police officer. The case continues.