UK judge rejects man's 'soldier of Allah' defense

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By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — A U.K. judge has told a 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 members 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.

He also told the court that while he had never met anyone from al-Qaida, he was full of admiration for the terrorist group and considered its members his "brothers in Islam."

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

The lawyer for the younger defendant, Adebowale, chose to offer no evidence in his client's defense.

In closing statements at a trial that opened Nov. 29, 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.

The brutal daylight slaying of Rigby shocked Britain, and was followed by a spate of attacks on mosques and Islamic centers.

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

After prosecution and defense have finished their closing arguments, the judge will give instructions to the jury of eight women and four men and ask them for their verdict.

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