Murder Charge in Case That Renewed Outrage Over U.K. Women’s Safety

LONDON — A 36-year-old man appeared in a British court on Tuesday after being charged with the murder of Sabina Nessa, an elementary-school teacher who was killed in a park near her home in Southeast London earlier this month.

Koci Selamaj was taken into police custody on Sunday. During a court hearing on Tuesday, his lawyer, Aidan Harvey, said Mr. Selamaj intended to plead not guilty.

Ms. Nessa, 28, had set out from her home in the Kidbrooke area at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 to meet a friend in a pub, typically a five-minute walk. But she never reached the pub, and her body was found the next evening near a community center in a park.

Ms. Nessa’s murder horrified women across Britain and sparked outrage over what activists view as a failure of the authorities to combat men’s violence against women.

A vigil for Ms. Nessa last week in Kidbrooke, London.Credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times

The police and prosecutors did not offer any details of how Ms. Nessa was killed or any possible motive for the attack. British news media have identified Mr. Selamaj as a former pizza delivery driver who lived in the coastal town of Eastbourne, but little else about his background has been made public.

Hundreds attended a vigil for Ms. Nessa last Friday in Southeast London, lighting candles and leaving flowers in her memory. “We have lost an amazing, caring and beautiful sister, who left this world far too early,” said one of her three sisters, Jebina Yasmin Islam, through tears. “She didn’t reach her 29th birthday next month.”

“No family should go through what we are going through.”

Ms. Nessa’s death comes just six months after the murder of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive who was kidnapped and killed while walking home in London. Her death also sparked a national outcry. The fact that a London police officer, Wayne Couzens, was arrested and pleaded guilty to her murder only intensified the public anger.

Ms. Nessa’s death has renewed concern that not enough is being done to protect women. In 2021, at least 109 British women have been killed by men, or in incidents where a man is the primary suspect, according to Counting Dead Women, a project dedicated to tracking such killings. The project counted 108 such killings in all of 2020.

A vigil in the Kidbrooke area of London last week in memory of Ms. Nessa, whose killing horrified women across Britain.Credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times

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