London: An Islamic State (ISIS) supporting terrorist who stabbed a veteran British parliamentarian to death at a constituency meeting was Wednesday handed a whole life sentence by a UK court.
Ali Harbi Ali, a 26-year-old man of Somali heritage, was arrested by police in Essex, south-east England, in October last year after he had stabbed Sir David Amess more than 20 times. He appeared at the Old Bailey court in London for a sentencing hearing after a jury found him guilty of the murder of the Conservative Party member of Parliament for Southend West.
“His (David Amess) loss is one of national significance,” Justice Nigel Sweeney said, handing Ali a whole life sentence – which means that his time behind bars is unlimited.
The judge said the terror attack had “struck at the heart of our democracy” and that Sir David was “a man of the greatest substance” who had “done nothing whatsoever” to justify the attack on him.
“The defendant has no remorse or shame for what he has done, quite the reverse,” he added.
Earlier, Ali told the court during his trial that he has no regrets about the killing, saying the MP deserved to die because he had voted in Parliament for airstrikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015.
“If I thought I did anything wrong, I wouldn’t have done it,” he told the jury.
The defiant attacker also refused to stand in court “on religious grounds”, when jurors delivered their verdicts on Monday after just 18 minutes deliberating.
“Our amazing husband and father has been taken from us in an appalling and violent manner,” David Amess’ family said in a statement.
“We shall get over this tragedy. It breaks our heart to know that our husband and father would have greeted the murderer with a smile of friendship and would have been anxious to help. How sickening to think what happened next. It is beyond evil,” they said.
The trial heard how the Tory lawmaker was killed in a “vicious and frenzied” attack that was “an assassination for terrorist purposes”.
The court heard how the attacker had researched a number of potential high-profile political targets, including government ministers Michael Gove and Dominic Raab and Opposition Leader Sir Keir Starmer, before settling on Amess.
“During this trial, we have heard how Sir David came to cross paths with a terrorist who had a settled plan to carry out an attack in the UK. It is clear that the man who begins a life sentence today is a cold, calculated and dangerous individual,” said Matt Jukes, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner and Head of Counter Terrorism Policing.
“His attack was stopped by two Essex Police Constables who apprehended this dangerous man, whilst he was still armed with the knife he had used to kill Sir David. Their actions were nothing short of heroic, and they undoubtedly prevented others from being harmed…None of that, sadly, can change the tragedy of Sir David’s murder,” he said.
The counter-terror official urged the public to play their part in tackling terrorism by staying vigilant and trusting their instincts.