Trump wants death penalty for attack suspect

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A local resident reacts after placing an Argentinian soccer jersey at a makeshift memorial for the October 31 terror attack victims along a bike path in New York. AFP

NEW YORK (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump yesterday reiterated his call that the Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people when he drove a truck down a New York City bike path should get the death penalty.

The suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, told investigators he was inspired by watching Islamic State videos and began planning Tuesday’s attack a year ago, according to a criminal complaint filed against him on Wednesday.

Saipov, 29, also said “he felt good about what he had done” and asked for permission to display the  IS flag in his hospital room, the complaint said.

Mr Trump on Wednesday suggested sending Saipov to the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, but yesterday said that move would have been too complicated.

“Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system…,” Mr Trump said on Twitter yesterday. In a subsequent Tweet, he added, “…There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!”

Saipov faces two charges, one of which carries the death penalty if the government chooses to seek it, Manhattan acting US Attorney Joon Kim said.

The charges are one count of violence and destruction of motor vehicles causing the deaths of eight people and one count of providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organisation – the IS. The maximum penalty for the first is death, Mr Kim said.

Saipov’s charging document said he waived his rights to remain silent, avoid self-incrimination and have an attorney present.

Investigators found thousands of IS-related propaganda images and videos on Saipov’s mobile phone, the complaint said.

The FBI located another Uzbek man, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, 32, wanted for questioning as a person of interest in the attack.

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