The former chairman of the right-wing Proud Boys group pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the January 6 Capitol riot, including conspiracy to obstruct US Congress.
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio entered the plea on Tuesday at a virtual hearing in federal court in Washington. He and about a dozen other members of the so-called “western chauvinist” group are all fighting charges that they helped plan the assault on the Capitol by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters.
Mr Tarrio was added about a month ago to one of the most serious cases stemming from the insurrection. He was npt at the Capitol himself on the day of the attack because he had been arrested a few days earlier for burning a Black Lives Matter flag at a historic black church in Washington. But he helped plan the siege, the US said.
US District Judge Timothy Kelly on Tuesday granted the Justice Department’s request to vacate the May 18 trial date after the government said it needed more time to prepare the case after Mr Tarrio was added.
The judge, who did not set a new trial date, rejected arguments from several defence lawyers who argued the trial should proceed as planned.
The other defendants in the case, including regional Proud Boys leaders Ethan Nordean of Washington state and Joseph Biggs of Florida, all previously pleaded not guilty.
The men “mobilised and led members of the crowd on to the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol, leading to dismantling of metal barricades, destruction of property and assaults on law enforcement,” the US said on Tuesday. Mr Tarrio allegedly “led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during their breach of the Capitol".
The Proud Boys and other right-wing groups have also been named alongside Mr Trump in a number of civil suits stemming from the riot, including one filed by members of Congress who allege their lives were put at risk that day.