LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Two Muslim converts were found guilty on Thursday of murdering a British soldier in broad daylight on a London street, hacking him to death in a gruesome killing that horrified the nation.
A jury at London's Old Bailey criminal court decided unanimously that Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, were guilty of murdering Lee Rigby on May 22 but not guilty of the attempted murder of a police officer.
The two British citizens had denied murdering Rigby, with Adebolajo saying the killing was part of a war for Allah in response to Western military action in nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
The court heard the two men ran over Rigby, a 25-year-old Afghan war veteran, near an army barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, then attacked his unconscious body with knives and a meat cleaver, trying to behead him.
They then dragged his corpse into the middle of the road where Adebolajo asked a bystander to video them, with their hands covered blood, as he calmly explained what he had done. "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we've killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers," Adebolajo told the camera. "He is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."
The murder horrified Britain and sparked a surge in reported hate crimes against Muslims, several anti-Islamist street protests by a right-wing group and government promises of tougher action on radical Islamic preachers.