NEW YORK — A man who killed eight people on a New York City bike path five years ago left a “scene of destruction and horror” where “screams filled the air” before telling an FBI agent that he needed to be blamed for the destruction. Proud. A prosecutor said at the start of the trial that he wished and wished he had the flag of his terror group in his hospital room.
Assistant US Attorney Alexander Lee began his opening statement in Manhattan federal court recounting the terroristic attack, in which he said Saifullo Saipov had rented a van on a sunny Halloween day in 2017 and driven at 66 mph (106 kph). / hour).
As the defendant occasionally played with an electronic device on the defense table, the prosecutor briefly pointed his finger in his direction, saying that the masked Saipov was responsible for the deaths of eight persons and the defendant’s permanent injuries. was blamed for. ,
Later, Saipov’s defense attorney, David Patton, did not deny that his client killed eight people and seriously injured others.
“It was not an accident. He did it intentionally,” Patton said. “At the end of the day, this kind of senseless act doesn’t make any sense.”
However, the lawyer said that prosecutors were wrong to say that Saipov did it to favor a terrorist group and that jurors should look closely at the evidence to see that he was right.
Patton said that Saipov expected to die a martyr’s death that day to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world.
Lee described the scene as broken bicycles strewn along a popular street and survivors “staggering, wounded and dazed” looking for their families and friends. The victims included a family traveling to Belgium and 10 friends from Argentina.
He said Saipov was hoping to kill more people by driving onto the Brooklyn Bridge, “where he could run down more people.”
Lee said Saipov, 34, has pleaded not guilty and was charged with assault after he rammed his truck into a school bus, causing severe brain damage to a boy. He got out of the truck with pellet guns and paintball guns and shouted a phrase in Arabic: “Allahu Akbar!”, which means “God is great!”
Lee said that Saipov intended the chant to be “celebratory”. He was shot by a police officer and arrested at the scene on the West Side Highway.
Lee said the police officer would be among the witnesses recounting the events of that day, along with an FBI agent who was allegedly asked by Saipov to put an “ISIS” flag in his hospital room.
“He was proud of his attack. He told an FBI agent that his goal was to kill as many people as possible,” the prosecutor said, adding that the agent would testify that Saipov smiled as he recounted his destruction.
The trial comes after a six-month-long jury selection process aimed at weeding out those who may not be fair.
Judge Vernon S. Broderick told them that if Saipov is convicted, the trial would have a separate “sentencing phase” in which jurors would be asked to decide whether Saipov should serve life in prison or be executed. should go. Broderick said that unless they unanimously chose death, the sentence would be life in prison.
Saipov’s lawyers have said that the capital punishment process was irreversibly tainted by former President Donald Trump, when he tweeted in capital letters the day after the attack that Saipov “should receive the death penalty!”
In 2001, weeks before the 9/11 attacks, a jury in Manhattan federal court declined to award the death penalty to two men convicted of the deadly bombings of two US embassies in Africa.
In 2019, Saipov said during a pre-trial hearing that “thousands and thousands of Muslims are dying around the world” and questioned why he should stand trial for the eight deaths.
In his opening statement, Lee said jurors heard testimony about Saipov’s desire to side with the Islamic State group after he legally moved to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010. He lived in Ohio and Florida before rejoining his family in Paterson, New Jersey. ,
The prosecutor said Saipov’s cellphone contained evidence that he viewed and stored thousands of Islamic State propaganda images, including calls for cars and trucks to be used as weapons in terrorist attacks in the United States.