Suspect charged with British MP's murder appears in court

Thomas Mair tells court his name is 'Death to traitors, freedom for Britain' as he appears in court charged with the murder of British lawmaker Jo Cox.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook shows Thomas Mair (C) appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, Britain June 18, 2016.

Updated Jun 19, 2016

A 52-year-old man charged with the murder of British lawmaker Jo Cox appeared in court on Saturday two days after he carried out an attack that brought campaigning for next week's referendum on European Union membership to a standstill.

Thomas Mair has been charged with murder, causing grievous bodily harm, and possession of a firearm and a knife after killing the 41-year-old Member of Parliament in her own electoral district in northern England on Thursday.

Cox was a member of the centre-left opposition Labour Party and supporter of Britain staying in the EU.

Jo Cox

A 77-year-old man who intervened to try to protect Cox remains in hospital in a stable condition after suffering a serious injury to his abdomen.

When asked his name by a clerk at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Mair replied "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain," which he repeated once more when asked a second time.

The suspect made no further comment, but his answer suggested that the attack was politically-motivated. 

Prosecutor David Cawthorne told the court that witnesses heard Mair saying "Britain first, Keep Britain independent, Britain always comes first," during the attack, in which Cox was repeatedly stabbed and then shot three times as she lay on the ground.

"I'm a political activist," Mair said as he was being arrested, Cawthorne added.

A prison van holding Thomas Mair leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, Britain June 18, 2016

Material relating to far right ideology was found in a search of his home, the prosecutor told the court.

The case is also being handled by the counter-terrorism unit of Britain's Crown Prosecution Service, but Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot suggested to the court that Mair needs to be seen by a psychiatrist.

Thursday’s attack shocked the nation, uniting politicians in horror and leading to the suspension of hostilities in what had become increasingly bitter and ugly campaigning ahead of the June 23 referendum on the EU.

On Friday, Prime Minister David Cameron joined Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in laying flowers in Birstall, where the attack took place.

"It is a vile act that has killed her," Corbyn said.

Cameron has agreed to recall parliament on Monday to allow lawmakers pay tributes to the popular lawmaker who had only been elected to parliament in 2015.

The murder has sparked debate in Britain, which has strict gun controls, about the safety of lawmakers, the heightened tempo of political confrontation and whether the slaying would affect the outcome of the EU referendum.

Both sides in the referendum contest have put on hold their national campaigns until at least Sunday.

Neo Nazi

The Southern Poverty Law Center said that Mair was a dedicated supporter of the National Alliance (NA), a neo-Nazi organisation in the United States.

The center also said Mair purchased a handbook from the NA in 1999 which gives instructions on how to build a pistol.

TRTWorld, Reuters