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Trial over British soldier murdered on a London street begins in Old Bailey

Two men accused of murdering a soldier in London have appeared in court. The duo's appearance at the Old Bailey was met by protesters demonstrating against "the Islamification of the UK."

Officers transported Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, from prison to the Old Bailey in London for a procedural hearing ahead of a scheduled trial. Adebolajo and Adebowale spoke only to confirm their names. The two have denied killing Rigby and the other charges of attempting to murder a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer on or before May 22.

Outside the court, demonstrators, some of them former soldiers wearing their medals, brandished placards reading "Veterans against the Islamification of the UK." The leader of the far-right British National Party, Nick Griffin (pictured), joined the roughly 30 protesters outside the Old Bailey before the hearing.

The death of Lee Rigby, who suffered multiple cut and stab wounds, sparked community tensions and led to demonstrations and arson attacks on mosques. Monitoring groups recorded a sharp spike in verbal and sometimes physical attacks on Muslims following the murder.

Shocking murder

The court charged the two men with murdering 25-year-old soldier Rigby as he walked back to Woolwich barracks in southeast London on May 22. In previous hearings, they have appeared separately in court or by videolink from prison.

The men killed Rigby as he returned from a recruitment event at the Tower of London. Police shot them and placed them under armed guard in a hospital.

Of Nigerian descent, both men have asked the court to address them by Muslim names. Adebolajo has asked the court to call him Mujaahid Abu Hamza, and Adebowale has taken the name Ismail Ibn Abdullah.

Mourners carpeted the street outside the barracks with flowers following the soldier's death. Prime Minister David Cameron joined thousands of mourners at Rigby's funeral in Bury, near Manchester in northwest England, on July 12. The soldier, a drummer in 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, had served a tour of duty in Afghanistan before taking up a post in army recruitment.

The court adjourned the case until Thursday.

mkg/ph (AFP, AP)