UK police charge man with murder in Jo Cox slaying

18 Jun,2016


Birstall, BdChronicle:

British police on Saturday charged a reclusive gardener with murder and other offenses in the slaying of a popular Labour Party lawmaker, Jo Cox, as evidence emerged the 52-year-old had decades-old ties to a neo-Nazi movement and an interest in anarchist weapons literature.

Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen of West Yorkshire Police said that Thomas Mair will appear at London's Westminster Magistrates Court later Saturday.

Mair was charged with murder, grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon, Wallen said.

As detectives questioned the suspect for a second day, authorities confirmed they were focused on his alleged links to white supremacists and history of mental illness as they sought a motive for an act of violence that has shocked Britain and brought normal political life to a halt.

Prime Minister David Cameron joined the stunned citizens of Birstall in paying tribute to Cox as they placed flowers and hand-written notes on a memorial and struggled to comprehend how one of their own could have so viciously killed her.

"Today our nation is rightly shocked," Cameron told a crowd that included witnesses to Thursday's killing and many of Cox's friends and colleagues, including lawmakers from both Cameron's ruling Conservative and Cox's opposition Labour parties. He urged the British people to drive intolerance and division "out of our public life and out of our communities."

President Barack Obama phoned Cox's husband from Air Force One and offered his condolences on behalf of the American people, the White House said in a statement Friday night.

"The president noted that the world is a better place because of her selfless service to others, and that there can be no justification for this heinous crime, which robbed a family, a community, and a nation of a dedicated wife, mother, and public servant," the statement said.

Yards away, police crime-scene tape blocked off street market stalls that just a day earlier were bustling with lunchtime trade as Cox arrived outside the town's library to field concerns from her constituents and see what she could do to fix them.

West Yorkshire's police commander, Dee Collins, confirmed that Mair attacked the 41-year-old lawmaker as she emerged from her car alongside two aides. The attacker, she said, stabbed Cox repeatedly with a hunting knife and shot her as she lay on the ground.

Collins said Mair's history of mental illness was "a clear line of inquiry" as were his alleged links to right-wing extremism and interest in neo-Nazi materials. She said the regional counter-terrorism unit was aiding in the investigation, in part to determine any links with other extremists, but the Birstall native was believed to have acted alone.

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