Accused killer of MP makes defiant court statement

People stand in front of a board carrying messages in remembrance of slain Labour MP Jo Cox in Parliament Square in front of the Houses of Parliament in central London on June 18, 2016. British lawmaker Jo Cox's alleged killer ranted against "traitors" during a brief court appearance on Saturday, as EU referendum campaigning was suspended for a third day in tribute to the slain MP. The 41-year old MP was shot and stabbed in the street in what police called a "targeted" daylight attack on June 16 in her constituency in northern England as she was arriving for a meeting with local residents. / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL


By Gregory Katz and Shawn Pogatchnik, AP

LONDON — The man accused of murdering British lawmaker Jo Cox gave his name as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain” in court Saturday, following the killing that has brought campaigning ahead of the country’s EU referendum to a standstill.

Thomas Mair, 52, made his defiant statement as he made his first appearance in Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London after being charged overnight with the murder of the popular Labour Party lawmaker.

Mair refused to give his correct name and did not answer when asked for his address and date of birth.

Labour Party lawmaker Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed to death Thursday after getting out of her car in the town of Birstall in her home constituency.

The rare killing in broad daylight of a British politician has stunned the country and silenced what had been a furious campaign ahead of Thursday’s referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union.

Both sides suspended campaigning as a sign of respect for Cox, who became the first sitting member of Parliament to be killed in a quarter-century.

Major campaign events and rallies are not expected to resume until Monday or later, but there were signs Saturday of low-level campaigning being reactivated, with the “Leave” campaign adding new posts to its Twitter feed.

Time is running out, and analysts say they expect the campaign tone to be more conciliatory and less confrontational when it resumes.

Impact on the Referendum Vote Not Clear It is not clear what, if any, impact the killing of Cox may have on the referendum vote, which is expected by many observers to be close.

Mair was charged with murder, inflicting grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit a crime, and other gun-related charges.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said in court that a psychiatric report should be prepared “bearing in mind the name he has just given.”

Mair will be kept in custody at Belmarsh Prison until his next court appearance, set for Monday at the Old Bailey courthouse.

He was not required to enter a plea during the brief session Saturday, during which he was handcuffed to a guard throughout the proceedings.

Authorities have not offered a motive for the killing. Counter-terrorism police were involved in the investigation looking for possible links, but the charges filed did not include terrorism offenses.

Cox was a former aid worker who championed immigrant rights, bringing an end to Syria’s civil war and keeping the United Kingdom in the European Union. The day before her killing, Cox joined her husband and two young children in campaigning for the pro-EU cause on the River Thames, where the family had lived in a houseboat since her election last year.