By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) – The man accused of killing British lawmaker Jo Cox a week before the June referendum on EU membership declined to respond when asked if he was guilty at a court hearing on Tuesday and the judge recorded pleas of not guilty to all charges.
Thomas Mair, 53, is accused of shooting and stabbing Cox, a member of parliament for the opposition Labour Party, as she arrived for a meeting with residents in the northern English town of Birstall, part of her electoral district.
The murder shocked the nation and led to the suspension of referendum campaigning for several days. Cox had been campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU.
A 77-year-old man who tried to help Cox during the attack was also stabbed.
Mair is charged with murder, causing grievous bodily harm, and possession of a firearm and a dagger. His trial is due to begin on Nov. 14.
The case is being treated as a terrorism matter.
Bearded and wearing a light gray sweatshirt and brown trousers, Mair spoke only to confirm his name and that he could hear the court proceedings as he appeared by video-link from Belmarsh Prison in London.
He remained silent when asked if he was guilty or not guilty to the murder, as he did when the other charges were read out to him.
“He appears to be mute therefore I will enter a plea of not guilty,” said Judge Alan Wilkie.
The murder of Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two young children and former aid worker, brought weeks of passionate and divisive campaigning on the EU issue to a sudden halt and briefly united politicians from both camps in condemnation.
At the first court hearing after his arrest, Mair said his name was “death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.
His lawyer told the court at another hearing in September that Mair would not present a defense case based on medical evidence. That could involve arguments such as, for example, that he had diminished responsibility due to a medical condition.
Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, was present at the court hearing on Tuesday.
(Writing by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison)