The sentencing phase of the trial of the perpetrator of the terrorist attack in which five Argentines were murdered on October 31, 2017 in New York is coming to an end. Next Tuesday will begin the last part of the trial with the presentation of the arguments of the prosecution and the defense of Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbek terrorist who has already been convicted on 28 counts. then the judge Vernon Broderick of the Court of the Southern District of New York will give instructions to the jurors and the period during which they must deliberate to decide on the sentence they will impose on the author of the attack. The prosecution requested the death penalty and the Uzbek’s defense requested that he be sentenced to life imprisonment to serve his sentence in the prison in Florence, Colorado, considered the prison the most safest in the United States. For him to be sentenced to death, the jury must vote unanimously.
Over the past week, witnesses proposed by Saipov’s defenders have said they have sought to humanize Uzbekistan’s image by showing photos from his childhood and bringing to the stand relatives of the terrorist who testified, in addition to answering questions from the defence. Sayfullo Saipov’s father, an uncle, his mother, his two sisters and his grandfather have testified over the past two weeks.
The jury heard on one of the last days of the trial from a terrorism expert called by lawyers from Uzbekistan. The specialist explained the power of Islamic State propaganda and why the terror group primarily targets residents of Uzbekistan, a predominantly Muslim Central Asian country that was once part of the former Soviet Union.
Noah Tucker, an Islamic State expert, said Saipov voraciously consumed the group’s propaganda before the attack. He further informed the jury that the terrorist organization’s recruitment of Uzbek citizens had been remarkably successful. He noted that when the country was under the rule of the former Soviet Union, many Uzbek religious leaders were sent to labor camps and many of them died. He explained that once independent, Uzbekistan remained an authoritarian country, adding that this gave an opportunity to the Islamic State, which promised to establish a religious caliphate.
Tucker explained that for Uzbeks who leave the country, Islam often becomes their primary identity. Many of these immigrants learn about ISIS propaganda, Tucker said, and are contacted by the terrorist organization’s recruiters through social media. Tucker told how they created a fake Facebook profile using a typical Uzbek name and how through this account they joined various immigrant groups. “It took less than 24 hours for an ISIS recruiter to contact this profile,” Tucker said.
During the sentencing phase of the Sayfullo Saipov trial, he chose not to testify. During the hearing last Wednesday morning, Judge Broderick offered him the opportunity to address the jury and the perpetrator of the terrorist attack refused. That same day in the afternoon, the judge repeated the offer: “I’m going to ask you again while you’re sitting here, do you intend to testify?” and he clarified “this will be his last chance”. The perpetrator of the attack in which 8 people were murdered again refused.
The trial will continue on Tuesday where one of the prosecutors and one of the defense lawyers are expected to present their closing arguments. After that, Judge Vernon Broderick will instruct the jurors and then the 12 members will begin deliberating on Sayfullo Saipov’s death sentence. In the first phase of the trial, the jury found him guilty of the crime of supplying material to a designated international terrorist organization, which implies the likelihood that the murderer will receive the death penalty provided by United States federal law for this type of crime. . .