Men tried to behead British soldier in 'humane' way, court hears

LONDON (AFP) - A man on trial for the gruesome murder of a British soldier tried to behead him because he thought it the most "humane" way to kill him, comparing it to halal butchery, a court heard on Thursday.

Michael Adebolajo, who has described himself as a "soldier of Allah", said he and his accomplice, Michael Adebowale, targeted 25-year-old Lee Rigby in May as he walked to his barracks in Woolwich, south London, because he was the first soldier they spotted.

The murder trial at London's Old Bailey court has heard that the pair ran Rigby over with a car and then attacked his unconscious body with knives, Adebolajo attempting to behead the soldier with a meat cleaver.

Adebolajo, 28, and Adebowale, 22, both Britons of Nigerian descent, deny murder.

Adebolajo told detectives after the brutal killing that he and Adebowale believed a soldier would be "the most fair target" in an attack aimed at avenging the deaths of Muslims abroad.

During a police interview on June 1 that was played to the court, Adebolajo told an officer: "We sat in wait and it just so happened that he was the soldier that was spotted first."

Covered by a blue blanket with a copy of the Quran in front of him, Adebolajo said he tried to cut Mr Rigby's jugular vein after running him over because it was the most humane way of ending his life, comparing it to halal butchery methods.

"We did not wish to give him much pain," Adebolajo said. "I could see he was still alive.

"We exited the vehicle and I am not sure how I struck the first blow. The most humane way to kill any creature is to cut the jugular, this is what I believe, this is how we kill our animals in Islam."

He added: "He may be my enemy but he is a man... so I struck at the neck and attempted to remove his head."

He and Adebowale felt that a soldier was the fairest target because "he joins the army with kind of an understanding that your life is at risk", Adebolajo told the police.

Adebolajo has asked to be known as Mujaahid Abu Hamza in court, while Adebowale wants to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah.

The court has heard that the pair were shot by police at the murder scene after Adebolajo ran at officers with the meat cleaver and Adebowale charged at them with a knife.

The men are further accused of attempting to murder a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer. They also deny these charges.