LONDON » British police charged a second suspect today with the murder of a soldier who was hacked to death in a London street, as right-wing and antifascist groups both demonstrated in response to a slaying that has heightened religious tensions in Britain.
The Metropolitan Police said 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo was charged with the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. Adebolajo also is accused of attempting to murder two police officers, and possession of a firearm.
Adebolajo was released from a hospital Friday after treatment for injuries suffered when he was shot by police in the May 22 attack near an army barracks in southeast London.
Another man, 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, also has been charged with murdering Rigby, who died of “multiple incised wounds,” according to a post-mortem.
Adebowale also spent several days in a hospital being treated for gunshot wounds.
The two men were recorded in photographs and on video after the attack on the soldier, bloodied and appearing to espouse Islamic extremism.
Police, politicians and activists have reported a rise in anti-Muslim incidents since Rigby’s slaying. But demonstrations by right-wing groups today drew low numbers.
In London, police kept about 150 British National Party supporters carrying anti-Islam placards apart from a larger group of anti-racist demonstrators outside Parliament after the two sides traded insults and occasional blows.
Police said 58 antifascist protesters were arrested after refusing to move to let the other group pass.
Smaller right-wing protests were held in other British cities, but the turnout fell far short of the show of strength organizers had hoped for. Both right- and left-wing protests were far outnumbered by a separate demonstration near Parliament, led by Queen guitarist Brian May, against the culling of badgers.
Police had earlier rejected a plan by the BNP — which claims to be anti-extremist but which opponents say is racist and anti-Islam — to march from the site of Rigby’s killing to a nearby Islamic center.
On Friday, Rigby’s family released a plea for peace, saying “Lee would not want people to use his name as an excuse to carry out attacks against others.”
Police said Adebolajo would make his first court appearance Monday.
Several others have been arrested and questioned in connection with the attack. Most have been released on bail.