Two men accused of murdering an off-duty British soldier in broad daylight in a case that transfixed the country with televised images of bloodshed will stand trial in London this week.
Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, both pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering Lee Rigby and attempting to kill a policeman. The duo are scheduled to go on trial this week at London’s Central Criminal Court, known as the Old Bailey.
Rigby was hit with a car and attacked by two men with knives just after 2 p.m. on May 22 outside a military barracks in Woolwich, southeast London. Adebolajo, who has asked to be called Mujaahid Abu Hamza, and Adebowale, who goes by Ismail Ibn Abdullah, were shot, wounded and arrested by police at the scene of the crime and later taken into custody.
Police have said they are treating the killing as an act of terrorism and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has called it a “betrayal of Islam.”
Rigby, the father of a 2-year-old son when he died, was a drummer in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. A fan of the Manchester United soccer team, he served as a machine gunner in Cyprus and then in 2009 as a member of a fire support group in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
An autopsy found that the soldier’s cause of death was multiple cut and stab wounds, police said. About 500 police officers and other investigators, including members of counter-terrorism units from forces around the country, have worked on the case, U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May said at the time.
The case is scheduled to last at least three weeks.