Charlottesville killer admits hate crimes

Alex Fields Jr is seen attending the "Unite the Right" rally in Emancipation Park, Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017Image copyright

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Alex Fields Jr (l) was pictured taking part in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia

A US man jailed for murder after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville has pleaded guilty to hate crimes at a court hearing.

James Alex Fields, 25, a professed neo-Nazi, was convicted on 29 of 30 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

Fields was sentenced last December to life in prison after driving his car into counter-protesters in 2017, killing one person and injuring dozens.

He previously claimed he acted out of fear for his safety.

Fields travelled around 500 miles (804km) from his home in Ohio to attend the Virginia rally.

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Heather Heyer died after being struck by the car in Charlottesville

The “Unite the Right” march was organised to protest against plans to remove a statue of General Robert E Lee, who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the US Civil War.

Counter-protesters turned out to oppose the rally and dozens of people were injured in violence that erupted.

One, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was killed when Fields drove at the crowd.

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The white nationalist rally in Charlottesville was the biggest such event in America in decades

Graphic video of the incident was widely shared on social media.

In the aftermath, President Donald Trump was criticised for saying there had been “very fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville.

Fields’ trial continues.