Conflict & Justice

Michael Adebowale charged in Woolwich murder

Michael Adebowale has been charged in the murder of a British soldier in broad daylight on a London street, which is being treated as an Islamic extremist attack. 

The 22-year-old, one of two main suspects in 25-year-old Lee Rigby's murder, was charged late Wednesday night with murder and possession of a firearm. He appeared in court Thursday morning.

He will face a bail hearing Monday, and his trial date has been set for June 28. 

Prosecutor Bethan David told the court Thursday that the charges against Adebowale could be defined as terrorism, under the UK's Terrorism Act. 

More from GlobalPost: What makes Woolwich an act of terrorism?

Rigby was stabbed to death near his barracks in London's Woolwich district after being hit by a car. Images and video taken by bystanders that surfaced after the brutal attack show the two men stabbing the soldier with bloody knives and meat cleavers.

Adebowale and the second suspect, 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo, have been recovering under armed guard in separate hospitals after being shot by police. 

Eight other people have been arrested in the connection to the murder; two were released without charges.

The attack has caused a backlash against Muslims in Britain, and raised questions about whether British intelligence — which had information on both the suspects from previous investigations — could have done more to prevent Rigby's death.  

More from GlobalPost: Lee Rigby: Woolwich attack victim died of 'multiple incised wounds'

There is also a debate over who's to blame for Adebolajo's actions. 

It emerged in a BBC television interview late last week that Woolwich suspect Michael Adebolajo had travelled to Kenya in 2010.  A friend told BBC Newsnight that Adebolajo had been arrested while in Kenya, and alleged that he had been tortured and threatened while in police custody.

At first, the government spokesman denied Adebolajo had ever been to Kenya. When that proved false, the spokesman said he had been arrested under a different name. This also subsequently proved wrong.

The latest tactic — backed up by the Kenyan lawyer who represented Adebolajo in 2010 — is to say it was Britain that actually ordered his release from Kenyan prison. 

Adebolajo's lawyer, Wycliffe Makasembo, said that Britain had given Adebolajo "a clean bill of health" and "recommended" that he be released. The UK foreign office has not commented on the specific allegation. 

GlobalPost senior correspondent, Tristan McConnell, reported from Nairobi, Kenya.