Libyan man sentenced to life over UK park stabbings

 

January 11, 2021

 

Khairi Saadallah has received a lifetime jail term after fatally stabbing three men in a Reading park last year. The judge deemed the killings a “terrorist act.”


The attacker pleaded guilty to killing three men in June 2020.

 

A court in London sentenced a Libyan asylum-seeker to life behind bars Monday for stabbing three men to death during a rampage in a British park last year.

Judge Nigel Sweeney rejected 26-year-old defendant Khairi Saadallah’s argument of mental illness at the time of the killings, which took place in June 2020 at Forbury Gardens in Reading, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of London.

Three other people suffered non-fatal injuries during the stabbing. Shortly thereafter, UK police declared the attack a “terrorist incident.”

Saadallah had pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in November, but denied being motivated by ideology or terrorism.

The court had examined whether Saadallah was motivated by religion, politics or ideology, if any pre-meditation and planning was involved in the attack, and evaluated his mental state at the time.

Attack motivated by ‘ideology’

Sweeney said Monday that Saadallah had been “seeking to advance a political, religious or ideological cause” and had carried out planning before the attack. Witnesses to the attack said Saadallah shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greater).

The victims were each killed by a single stab wound, and Sweeney said the attack was so “swift, ruthless and brutal” that none of the three men stood a chance to defend themselves.

Jenny Hopkins, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) counterterrorism division said that the attack was “brutal and pre-planned” on groups of friends enjoying an evening in a park “where they would have felt completely safe.”

A life prison sentence is rare in the UK, however, Sweeney said that the case was so “rare and exceptional” it would require a harsh punishment.

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