A New York City killer murdered eight people in a bike lane.  Will he be the first man Biden has sent to his death?

A New York City killer murdered eight people in a bike lane. Will he be the first man Biden has sent to his death?

youSayfullo Saipov’s terrorism trial is expected to wrap up this week and head to jurors, who will decide whether the Uzbek immigrant will be the first person sentenced to face the federal death penalty during the Biden administration.

‘A bike lane on your battlefield’

Prosecutors say Saipov crashed a rented Home Depot truck on Manhattan’s crowded West Side bike path in 2017, killing eight and injuring many more in an Islamic State-inspired plot. The attack was the deadliest act of terrorism in New York City since 9/11.

Why the Death Penalty Isn’t Working for America

During his closing arguments this week, US Attorney Jason Richman said the suspected terrorist “turned a bike path into his battlefield.”

Saipov, who came to the US on a work visa in 2010 from Uzbekistan, has admitted to the attack, with his lawyer arguing only that Saipovr did not carry out his plan at the behest of Isis and rather acted on his own. a distinction that could affect the severity of the sentence.

“If you plan to die in an attack, you don’t plan to join an organization,” New York City public defender David Patton said this week. “I will admit that there is something strange about discussing possible explanations for a horrific crime that is inexplicable and senseless, but it is what you are accused of and it is the decision you are being asked to make.”

Saipov did not testify and his defense did not call witnesses.

the victims speak

Prosecutors presented evidence they said showed Saipov believed he was acting to further a larger ISIS plot, including a jailhouse phone call in which he called himself a “soldier of the caliphate” and his request to hang up. an ISIS flag in his hospital room.

The trial also featured first-hand accounts from survivors of the truck attack.

Marion Van Reeth, who was visiting New York from Belgium when the 2017 incident occurred, described waking up in a hospital bed to find her legs were missing.

“It is a terrible shock, of course. She couldn’t believe it was true. Of course I was in a lot of pain, but I didn’t realize I lost both legs,” Ms. Van Reeth testified. Friedel Decadt, also from Belgium, described seeing the suffering of her sister Ann-Laure, who eventually died of her injuries.

“Her gaze was lifeless. She just looked up into the air and she had a lot of blood coming out of her mouth,” Decadt said.

A man with ‘monsters inside’

Saipov’s trip to the United States began on an optimistic note, after he won the green card “lottery” and came to the United States on a work visa when he was 22 years old.

The Uzbek immigrant came from a wealthy family in the capital, Tashkent, and practiced traditional Islam, without any hint of extremism, authorities said.

However, once he arrived in the US, Saipov struggled to find work in the hospitality industry, where he worked in his home country, and instead settled into a rootless existence as a trucker, the New York Times reports.

Those who knew him described him as a poor connoisseur of Islam and a “vulgar character” as well as “freaks on the inside”.

“I always thought in the bottom of my soul that I would be jailed for beating someone or insulting someone,” Mirrakhmat Muminov, a trucker who knew Saipov, told the newspaper. “He had a vulgar character.”

Proof of Biden’s Contradictory Stance on the Death Penalty

It is not just the New Jersey resident who is on trial.

The Biden administration’s confused and seemingly hypocritical stance on the death penalty is under intense scrutiny. Joe Biden has said that he is against executions, but his Justice Department continues to seek the death penalty for the Uzbek immigrant.

President Biden, who was instrumental in crafting numerous “tough on crime” policies as a senator in the 1990s, made the stunning announcement that he was against the death penalty on the campaign trail for 2020, explaining that he was giving up his previous support because a mountain of evidence on wrongful convictions now showed that “we cannot guarantee that death penalty cases are always correct.”

Also, a year later, the Justice Department announced in July 2021 that it would suspend federal executions while the government reviewed its capital punishment policies, following a historic series of executions under Donald Trump.

“Serious concerns have been raised about the continued use of the death penalty across the country, including the arbitrariness in its application, the disparate impact on people of color, and the troubling number of exonerations in capital punishment and other serious cases.” wrote Attorney General Merrick Garland. in a memo at the time explaining the moratorium.

“He assured me that during his tenure there would be no federal executions,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley. the independent last year.

The president’s personal discomfort with executions has not stopped the Justice Department from seeking the death penalty in a series of terrorism and domestic extremism cases, including the Manhattan truck attack as well as the prosecution of the terrorist. of Boston Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and white supremacist church gunman Dylann. Roof, though, like the independent As reported, some families of the victims in both cases have expressed their wish that the government refrain from applying the death penalty.

Biden’s Justice Department has also continued to defend death sentences ordered by other administrations.

“They have been consistently inconsistent,” said death penalty expert Professor Austin Sarat of Amherst College. the independent.

In July 2021, the same month that Garland announced a moratorium on executions, federal prosecutors praised an appeals court for upholding the death sentence against Tsarnaev.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

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(Federal Bureau of Investigation)

“The jury carefully considered each of the defendant’s crimes and determined that the death penalty was justified by the horrors he personally inflicted,” Acting Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in a report at the time.

The White House told Reuters at the time that Joe Biden still opposes the death penalty, but the Justice Department “has independence with respect to such decisions.”

“President Biden has made clear that he has deep concerns about whether capital punishment is consistent with values ​​that are fundamental to our sense of justice and fairness,” a spokesperson told the wire service.

In March 2022, the Supreme Court further upheld the Boston Bomber’s ruling.

Roof’s prosecution followed the same trajectory. In 2021, a month after the moratorium was announced, a federal prosecutor held an appeals court upholding the white supremacist’s death sentence, calling it a sign that “justice will be served for the victims, survivors and their families.” ”.

In October 2022, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal challenging Roof’s execution.

Critics argue that Biden is saying one thing and doing another. The president has said that he hopes to pursue legislation banning the death penalty, though he has spent virtually no public political capital pushing for such a priority.

What’s more, according to Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center, even without a new law, the president could still “end the federal death penalty for a generation” by commuting the sentences of all 44 death row inmates. Feds for life in prison.

Otherwise, the president’s stance won’t mean much to future death row inmates once he leaves office.

“Biden executions will take place under future administrations, but make no mistake, they will be Biden executions,” Dunham said. the independent.

Whats Next?

Once the jury decides on a conviction, the trial will move to the punishment phase, where the 12-member panel will decide whether to impose the death penalty.

The sanction phase could be extended up to one more month, the New York Times reports.

The Independent and the non-profit organization Business initiative responsible for justice (RBIJ) have launched a joint campaign to call for an end to the death penalty in the United States. The RBIJ has attracted more than 150 known signatories to its Business Leaders Statement Against the Death Penalty, with The Independent last on the list. We’ve joined high-profile executives like Ariana Huffington, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson as part of this initiative and are committed to highlighting the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage.

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