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Cox murder suspect appears in court

June 18, 2016

The man accused of killing Labour MP Jo Cox on a street in northern England has appeared in a London court. When asked to identify himself before the judge, he said: 'My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.'

Artist's impression of the man charged with the murder of MP Jo Cox
Image: picture-alliance/PA Wire/E. Cook

Thomas Mair appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Saturday, charged with murder, grievous bodily harm, and possession of a firearm and another offensive weapon.

The 52-year-old, who was handcuffed and wearing a gray tracksuit, was remanded in custody until his next appearance at London's Old Bailey central criminal court on Monday. Following his initial declaration against "traitors," the accused remained silent when asked to provide his date of birth and address, reports said. A psychiatric report has been requested.

Mair was arrested just a short time after Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death in the northern English town of Birstall on Thursday.

Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two who had been an MP for Britain's Labour party for just a year, was attacked as she got out of her car along with two aides. The attacker stabbed her with a hunting knife and shot her as she lay on the ground.

Earlier, police said they were investigating Mair's alleged links to a neo-Nazi movement and an interest in anarchist weapons literature. At least three eyewitnesses described how the 52-year-old, who has a history of mental illness, shouted the term "Britain First" during the attack, a reference to a far-right political party and movement.

Jo Cox
Tributes have been paid to the MP and former aid workerImage: Getty Images/AFP/D. Leal-Olivas

A regional counterterrorism unit is aiding in the investigation, in part to determine any links with other extremists, but Mair is believed to have acted alone.

Cox's murder has left many Britons stunned, coming a week before the country was due to vote in a referendum on Britain's EU membership. Campaigning has been temporarily suspended, amid concerns that the often-times heated tone of the debate contributed to her death.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for political rhetoric to be toned down following the killing.

Questions are also being asked about how Mair was able to acquire a gun in a country with tough firearms controls.

US President Barack Obama spoke to Cox's husband Brendan by phone from Air Force One on Friday and offered his condolences on behalf of the American people, the White House said in a statement.

"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.

An online fund to raise money for Cox's favorite charities had amassed more than £200,000 (254,000 euros) in just five hours.

mm,nm/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)