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U.K. police charge man with lawmaker's murder

Authorities say a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, Ali Harbi Ali, has been charged in the death of David Amess.
Image: FILE PHOTO: People pay tribute to late British MP David Amess, in London
Mourners leave flowers at a memorial for British lawmaker David Amess, who was stabbed to death during a meeting with constituents. Henry Nicholls / Reuters

LONDON — A man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a U.K. lawmaker who was killed as he met with the public at a church hall last week.

Authorities say a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, Ali Harbi Ali, has been charged in the death of David Amess. The case shook a nation accustomed to having face-to-face contact with its leaders.

“We will submit to the court that this murder has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations,” said Nick Price of the Crown Prosecution Service.

“He has also been charged with the preparation of terrorist acts.”

The death of Amess, a Conservative who had served in Parliament for almost 40 years and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015, has shocked Britain’s politicians, who pride themselves on being accessible to their constituents.

It has prompted conversations at the highest levels about how the country protects its leaders and grapples with extremism at home.

The slaying came five years after Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by a far-right extremist. Cox was the first British lawmaker to be killed since a peace accord ended large-scale Northern Ireland violence almost 30 years earlier.

Amess, 69, was a social conservative who opposed abortion, campaigned for animal rights and strongly supported Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Matt Jukes, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, said the force “will continue to build our case.” He said detectives had analyzed computers, searched several London addresses and reviewed CCTV footage as part of the investigation.

“It remains the case that no other arrests have been made and at this time we are not seeking anybody else in relation to this incident,” he said.

On Wednesday, British interior minister Priti Patel said the terrorism threat level to members of parliament was now deemed substantial, which means an attack is considered likely.