One of the two men shot by armed police after Drummer Lee Rigby was hacked to death in Woolwich has been charged with his murder.
Michael Adebowale is appearing in Westminster Magistrates' Court this morning where he will face a charge of murder and of illegal possession of a firearm.
The decision to charge him, the day after he was discharged from hospital, was announced late tonight by the Crown Prosecution Service following discussions with anti-terrorist police.
Sue Hemming, head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism Division, said it had been agreed there was sufficient evidence to justify the charge.
“Following the release of Michael Adebowale from hospital, we have authorised the police to charge him with the murder of Drummer Rigby,” she said.
“We have also authorised police to charge him with possession of a firearm, contrary to section 16A of the Firearms Act 1968. There is sufficient evidence to prosecute Michael Adebowale and it is in the public interest to do so. He will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court tomorrow, Thursday 30 May.”
She added that as Adebowale has now been charged he “has a right to a fair trial” and as such she urged that nothing be reported that could prejudice the trial. Her warning was aimed as much as the new media, such as Twitter and Facebook, as traditional news outlets.
Michael Adebolajo, the other man shot by police on 22 May, remains in hospital and at least eight other people have been arrested as part of the inquiry. The CPS said it was continuing to advise police in relation to the suspects arrested during their investigation into Drummer Rigby's death.
The announcement of the first murder charge in relation to Drummer Rigby's death came just hours after the soldier's fiancée paid tribute to him as a “great man”.
In a short statement Aimee West said: “I am devastated by the loss of Lee who was a loving fiance. I am extremely proud of him and I am moved by all the flowers and tributes, and that he has been remembered by the nation as the great man that he was.”
As it was confirmed that he died of multiple stab wounds police made a fresh appeal for witnesses to come forward.
Commander Simon Letchford said: “A fast-paced and complex investigation is now under way led by detectives from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command.
”As part of that investigation, officers are asking for the public's help. We need to hear from anyone who may have seen Lee being attacked or who may have any other information that may help.
“This has been a difficult time for everyone in our city. What is important now is that we, as Londoners, come together.
”I would urge people to continue to show restraint and calm as our investigation continues to bring those responsible for Lee's death to justice.“
It was also revealed that thepolice marksmen involved in shooting two suspects could be back on duty within weeks.
Chief Superintendent Alistair Sutherland said: ”I will obviously speak to my counterparts in our department for professional standards and I will liaise with the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission), and then I will come to a decision around putting them back to ops.
“But at this stage, I would anticipate them being back on operational duty fairly quickly.”
The officers, along with two of their commanders, are currently undergoing post-shooting assessments.
The IPCC is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting of the two men. It said that two police officers had fired gun shots and one used their Taser when they were confronted.
An inquest into Drummer Rigby's death will be opened and adjourned on Friday.
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- City Of Westminster Magistrates' Court
- Independent Police Complaints Commission
- War On Terror