Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, were dragged from the dock in the Old Bailey court in London after they started screaming “Allahu akbar” (“God is greater”) at the judge while delivering the judgement that sentenced them to life imprisonment.
The pair of Muslim converts were found guilty in December of ploughing into Rigby with a car before attacking him with knives in broad daylight outside his barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, in May 2013.
Judge Nigel Sweeney ordered Adebolajo to spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole for killing Rigby, who had previously served in Afghanistan, and said Adebowale had to serve a minimum of 45 years.
He said a whole-life prison term was a “just penalty” for Adebolajo, who had proclaimed his admiration for the Al-Qaeda terror network, but that the younger man’s “lesser role” meant he would get a shorter sentence.
Adebolajo and Adebowale, both Britons who were raised by Nigerian Christian families before converting to Islam, said they had attacked the off-duty soldier to avenge the deaths of Muslims at the hands of British troops.
Minutes before the sentencing, Adebolajo started shouting “Allahu akbar” and Adebowale called out “that’s a lie” in response to claims that they had been radicalised.
The sentencing had been delayed for several weeks because the judge wanted clarification on a European ruling that made it uncertain whether life sentences could still be imposed.