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Libyan refugee charged with murder in wake of Reading attack on gay men

Libyan refugee charged with murder in wake of Reading attack on gay men
Libyan-born Khairi Saadallah has been charged with three counts of murder, following a mass stabbing in the town of Reading last week. The attack, initially investigated by UK’s counter-terrorism police, targeted gay men.

The 25-year-old has been charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, the Crown Prosecution Service said on Saturday. The June 20 knife attack in a Reading park left three people dead and at least three others injured.

Although Saadallah had been investigated by British counter-terrorism police, there was no reference to terrorism in the charges listed.

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The stabbing took place at Forbury Gardens in Reading last Saturday. Three of the victims died at the scene, while the other three were taken to hospital and have all since been released.

The authorities are yet to disclose the suspect’s motive. However, given that all three of those who died are gay, and the attack coincided with Pride Month, which is being marked by many LGBT events across the UK, a number of media outlets have pointed the finger at homophobia. Saadallah openly expressed his disgust with homosexuals, the Sun newspaper reported, citing a gay acquaintance of the suspect. “In my country, disgusting people like you would be beheaded,” he allegedly told the man.

Saadallah came to the UK as an illegal immigrant in 2012, fleeing the chaos of the Libyan War that was prompted by the NATO-backed toppling of Muammar Gaddafi. In 2018, he was granted asylum. The British media claims that he received it despite being on MI5’s suspected-jihadist list for many years.

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The charges are being levied on Saadallah a day after another major stabbing incident occurred, this time in central Glasgow. On Friday, a man injured six people before being shot dead by the police. Media reports say the suspect was a disgruntled Sudanese asylum seeker, who had complained about poor Covid-19 sheltering conditions and who allegedly had a history of mental-health issues. Police said the attack was not being treated as a terror-related incident.

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