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Woman in court who allegedly stabbed UK lawmaker

LONDON – A 21-year-old woman stabbed a British lawmaker in the stomach with a kitchen knife as revenge for his support of the Iraq war, police and prosecutors said Monday.

Legislator Stephen Timms said Roshonara Choudhry appeared to be smiling before she attacked him during an open-house session for constituents at a London community center in May.

Choudhry is charged with attempting to murder Timms, who was a Treasury minister in the previous Labour government.

Detective Inspector Simon Dobinson told a jury at London’s Central Criminal Court that when questioned by police Choudhry said: “I was trying to kill him because he wanted to invade Iraq.”

“I was not going to stop until someone made me. I wanted to kill him. … I was going to get revenge for the people of Iraq,” Dobinson quoted her as saying.

Prosecutor William Boyce said Choudhry was not mentally ill and had made “very full admissions” to police about what she had done.

Choudhry, who has been in jail since the May 14 incident, was not in court for the start of her trial. Defense lawyer Jeremy Dein said she did not recognize the court’s authority and had ordered her legal team not to contest the evidence against her.

Judge Jeremy Cooke told jurors they should not assume she was guilty just because she was not in court.

Timms, 55, told the jury that he thought Choudhry – who was dressed in black and wearing a headscarf – was about to shake hands when she lunged at him.

“She looked friendly. She was smiling, if I remember rightly,” said Timms, who has made a full recovery.

“I was a little puzzled because a Muslim woman dressed in that way wouldn’t normally be willing to shake a man’s hand, still less to take the initiative to do so, but that is what she was doing.”

Timms said he didn’t see a knife and was initially unsure what had happened.

“I retreated into the gents’ toilet and lifted up my jumper and realized there was quite a lot of blood there, so I realized I had been stabbed,” he said.

The decision by the Labour government of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to join the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq was highly unpopular in Britain.

All British lawmakers hold regular sessions in which constituents can present problems and complaints.

In January 2000, Liberal Democrat lawmaker Nigel Jones and his aide Andrew Pennington were attacked by a man wielding a sword during such a meeting. Pennington was killed and Jones injured in the attack in Cheltenham, England.