Suspect in Jo Cox’s killing says ‘My name is death to traitors’

Birstall, England —The man charged with shooting and stabbing to death a popular British lawmaker gave his name Saturday as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain” during his first court appearance since the killing stunned this nation on Thursday.
Thomas Mair, 52, made the comment when a judge asked for his name in a London magistrate’s court. Mair was officially charged Saturday with the murder of Jo Cox, a 41-year-old member of the center-left Labour Party who had been an outspoken advocate for refugees, immigrants and Britain’s continued membership in the European Union.
Mair’s statement adds considerable weight to the theory that the killing was a politically motivated, far-right attack. Although neighbours and family members have described Mair as apolitical, watchdog groups have unearthed evidence of decades-long affiliations with neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations.
The soul-searching spawned by the death of 41-year-old Jo Cox has the potential to reset the tone of the E.U. debate and could influence its outcome when the country votes Thursday.
Tommy Mair had long-standing ties to the National Alliance, a U.S.-based neo-Nazi organization, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mair’s call for “freedom for Britain” echoes the rhetoric of anti-E.U. campaigners, who have urged citizens to declare their independence from an organization they blame for bringing hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the United Kingdom’s shores. Any overt referendum campaigning has been put aside until Sunday as the nation continues to mourn Cox, who was attacked outside the library in this quiet northern English market town, just before she was due to hold a regular meeting with constituents.
But revelations that the alleged perpetrator had long-standing affiliations with neo-Nazi and other far-right groups have prompted a widespread demand for an end to the divisive rhetoric that has marred the referendum campaign.
Police said Friday they are still investigating what led the killer to attack Cox. But witnesses at the scene reported that a man appeared to have been waiting for her outside the library, and that he shouted “Britain first!” during and after the assault. The man was arrested as Cox lay dying on the sidewalk.—Agencies

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