Sayfullo Saipov, an Islamic radical charged with killing eight in Manhattan in October 2017, interrupted a judge in court Friday to invoke Allah and defend the Islamic State.
Saipov, who hails from Uzbekistan and whose name translates to “Sword of Allah,” is accused of using a rental truck on October 31, 2017, to mow down 8 people on a bike path near the World Trade Center and seriously injure dozens more. He requested permission to speak in court Friday directly after U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick set the date of Saipov’s trial for October 7, 2019. (RELATED: The Manhattan Truck Attack Triggered This US Military Veteran To Join ISIS)
Saipov, speaking through a translator, then ranted for 10 minutes about his sole devotion to Allah and to the jihad ISIS is waging. Broderick interrupted Saipov to read him his rights and to warn him that whatever he said could be used against him in court. Saipov was reportedly unfazed.
“I understand you, but I’m not worried about that at all,” Saipov continued through his translator, according to the Associated Press. “So the Islamic State is not fighting for land, like some say, or like some say, for oil. They have one purpose, and they’re fighting to impose Sharia on earth.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Beaty objected to Saipov’s speech on the grounds that it was “terrorist propaganda,” and that Saipov would normally be restricted from engaging in such speech in jail. Broderick, however, allowed him to continue, saying that he believed Saipov was coming to the end of his remarks.
Once Saipov finished, Broderick told him that he would not likely allow him to speak like that again in court but that he would be allowed to testify during his trial and would be allowed to speak at his sentencing, if convicted.
“I don’t accept this as my judge,” Saipov concluded.
The Department of Justice will decide whether to seek the death penalty for Saipov by the end of the summer, according to a prosecutor. Defense lawyers argued that if Saipov pleads guilty, the government should accept life in prison. He previously pleaded not guilty through his lawyer.
Prosecutors had sought an earlier trial date in April, arguing that the families of the dead and those who were injured in Saipov’s attack deserved swift justice.
“The victims here are anxious now when that trial is going to be,” said assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Houle, according to AP. “The public deserves a speedy trial, and the surviving victims deserve to know when that trial is going to be.”
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