The perpetrator of the New York attack in which 5 Argentines died could be sentenced to death

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The trial is in the jury selection phase and the verdict will be known in January next year

The perpetrator of the attack in New York in which 5 Argentines died could be sentenced to death

By

Fabio Ferrer

The perpetrator of the attack in New York in which 5 Argentines died could be sentenced to death

Sayfullo Saipov, accused of being the author of the terrorist attack in New York in 2017

The trial against the terrorist accused of killing eight people, including five Argentines, in Manhattan on October 31, 2017, entered the final stage and in January he could be sentenced to the death penalty.

At 3:05 p.m. that day, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek, stormed a bike path in South Manhattan, running over a group of cyclists and killing eight. The terrorist later said that he did it on behalf of ISIS. Authorities found 90 videos and thousands of ISIS propaganda photos on Saipov's cell phone.

Among the victims were five Argentines from the city of Rosario, who had traveled to New York to celebrate their 30th anniversary as graduates of the Polytechnic College: Hernán Mendoza, Diego Angelini, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi.

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According to prosecutors, Saipov chose Halloween because he thought there would be more people on the streets and revealed that he also planned to attack the Brooklyn Bridge.

New York Southern District Court Judge Vernon BroderickIt began on October 11 with the jury selection process and it is expected to begin in December with the hearings in which the Attorney General's Office will present the charges and the relatives of the victims of the attack will be heard. The process generates great expectations and a record number of volunteers signed up to join the jury. Judge Broderick announced last Friday that 3,000 questionnaires will be sent to applicants. Jury selection is one of the most important and complex tasks in which the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys spend weeks trying to identify candidates who are impartial.

Saipov faces eight counts of murder, twelve counts of attempted murder, and one count of providing and attempting to provide material support to a United States-designated foreign terrorist organization.

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During the trial, jurors will be asked to first determine whether Saipov is guilty and then whether he is sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty. To sentence him to death, the jury's decision must be unanimous. On this point, the official defenders began to deploy a maneuver to prevent one of the candidates from being eliminated. This is juror 17, who, when answering the questionnaire, said that for religious reasons she is opposed to the death penalty. The defense argued that this jury cannot be removed because that would violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, which ensures that Congress cannot create any law establishing an official religion or prohibiting the free exercise of a particular religion. The inclusion of this jury would ensure that Saipov is not sentenced to death.

The Uzbek terrorist had previously pleaded not guilty to try to avoid capital punishment. His lawyers also appealed directly to Attorney General Merrick Garland to withdraw the death penalty request but the request was denied. In a letter filed late Friday, September 16 in Manhattan Court, Damian Williams, Chief United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, reported that Attorney General Merrick Garland “decided to continue seeking the death penalty” against Sayfullo Saipov.

The perpetrator of the attack in New York in which 5 Argentines died could be sentenced to death

Ana Evans, wife of a of the victims of the 2017 New York bombing

This is the first death penalty trial to take place during the administration of President Joe Biden< /b>. Meanwhile, the United States Department of Justicereviews the application of this type of sentence, the executions resumed in 2020 after an interval of 17 years.

The relatives of the Rosario victims received a notification last Friday at the that they were informed that the hearings would begin on December 12 or January 3.

Consulted by Infobae, Juan Félix Marteau , legal representative of Ana Evans -wife of one of the victims- and their three children, regarding her expectations regarding the outcome of the trial, responded that she “expects the maximum penalty provided for in American law for the attacker, which is the death penalty since His criminal act expressed a deliberate, planned, and trained determination to murder innocents in the name of a religious extremism that demands the destruction of the other regardless of the absence of conflict or prior enmity.” And he added “my position is technical and takes into account the authorization that the 5th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States makes to punish cases of Terrorism.”

The perpetrator of the attack in New York in which 5 Argentines died could be sentenced to death

Juan Félix Marteau, lawyer for relatives of the victims of the attack in New York (Alejandro Beltrame)

“My clients are rather waiting for the end of a cycle: confirmation that justice does not accept or leave unpunished acts as cowardly as this, which has caused so much damage and pain with the death of a loved one like Hernán Mendoza,” said Marteu. .

When asked if Argentine legislation would have allowed the same solution for this case as the American justice, the lawyer for the victims replied that “the crime is not typified in Argentina of material support to a terrorist organization, which makes it possible to criminally charge those who offer themselves as an instrument of support to a terrorist organization. Furthermore, in Argentina we lack a system for designating individuals or terrorist groups as the United States has developed, in this case enlisting the Islamic State”. He added that this case, in which Argentine citizens were murdered, should be seriously considered in order to reform the deficient and almost non-existent anti-terrorism legislation that we have in the country.

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