An Uzbek man accused of terrorism in an attack on pedestrians and cyclists in New York City on October 31, 2017 refused to stand for the federal judge this week. Sayfullo Saipov was indicted for the murder of eight people, providing material support to ISIS, and attempted murder of 22 people in Manhattan federal courts this past November. The duty of the accused to stand for an incoming federal judge is practiced in courtrooms across America, and it the was the choice of Saipov to ignore this custom. His lawyer motioned for Saipov to stand as the judge entered the courtroom but the man chose to pay no heed to his lawyer’s wishes and remained seated.
The 29-year-old of Paterson, New Jersey had a stern look on his face as the trial began proceedings.
What is under debate currently is the start date of Saipov’s trial. The American attorneys hoping to imprison Saipov want the trial to start in April 2019, while the lawyers defending Saipov want the trial pushed back even later. The decision the judge came to was that both sides must submit briefs to the court by March 30, at which point a decision will be made. Additionally, the federal government may decide to seek the death penalty for Saipov – but it must make this decision by September 1.
Saipov’s lawyers gestured to the fact that they may accept a plea deal. This would result in Saipov’s imprisonment for life without the chance of parole if he were to plead guilty.
In the midday attack in New York City, Saipov killed eight people – six of them tourists visiting the city on holiday. Five of these were Argentinian men on bicycles, visiting the Big Apple to celebrate 30 years since their high school graduation. The sixth tourist was a Belgian woman while a man from New York and one from New Jersey also lost their lives. 12 other people were injured in the attack.
Investigators arriving at the scene after Saipov was shot in the stomach by a police officer say Saipov made several statements concerning his allegiance to ISIS. The group itself later took credit for the deadly attack, while Saipov showed little to no remorse for his senseless, violent actions. Saipov’s own injuries were minimal enough that after two days in the hospital he was transferred to a prison facility in Manhattan.
Saipov has lived in Ohio in the past, where he worked as a truck driver, but was most recently living in New Jersey with his wife and children. There he worked as an Uber driver to pay the bills while his resentment simmered.
Two cell phones are key pieces of evidence in Saipov’s trial, as one contains many Islamic State videos and the other contains searches for truck rental companies. It remains to be seen how the trial will proceed, but Saipov and his lawyers will certainly face an uphill battle. By remaining seated when the judge entered the courtroom, Saipov did himself no favors – perhaps he knows the game is up already.