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Trial of terrorist who killed eight people on New York City cycle path begins

12 more people were injured in attack by Sayfullo Saipov on Halloween 2017

The trial of a terrorist who drove a rented van onto a busy cycle path in Manhattan, killing eight people, has begun in New York City.

According to prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty, Sayfullo Saipov spent a year planning the attack, which happened on the afternoon of 31 October 2017 as people prepared to celebrate Halloween that evening.

Saipov, originally from Uzbekistan and aged 34, has been charged with 28 separate counts including eight counts of murder, reports WRAL.

He has also been charged with providing and attempting to provide material aid to Islamic State (ISIS).

His lawyer David Patton told the court this week that Saipov “murdered eight people,” and that he believed it was his religious obligation to carry out the attack.

He said that his client expected to die in the attack, but said that imposing the death sentence sought by prosecutors – which would also need to be unanimously ratified by a jury – would bestow the martyrdom on him that he had been seeking when he carried it out.

The attack took place shortly after 3pm, with Saipov driving onto the West Side Highway cycle path in Lower Manhattan, part of the Hudson River Greenway.

He drove along the cycle path at speed in a van he had rented from a branch of Home Depot in New Jersey, crashing into people on bike and on foot, with two American nationals, five tourists from Argentina and one from Belgium, who had been riding a hire bike on a holiday with her mother and sisters, killed.

A further eight people were injured, including another Belgian, Marion Van Reeth, who was riding rented bikes with her husband and children, and who had her legs amputated as a result of the injuries she sustained in the attack.

Aristide Melissas, her husband, who lost consciousness during the attack and needed surgery for a fractured skull, told the court that he believed a car had crashed behind him and his family, adding: “I never thought it was a terrorist trying to kill us.”

The court also heard evidence from Belgian national Friedel Decadt, who described how she found her sister dead after Saipov ran her over on what her surviving sister, Justine Decadt, said was “supposed to be a fun trip, a girls’ trip.”

Another witness, lawyer Carolea Goldfarb, was nearly struck by Saipov and described how she saw four cyclists “who went up in the air” after he crashed into them.

Four other people were injured when Saipov crashed into a school bus carrying special needs pupils, after which he got out of the van and was shot in the stomach by a police officer.

According to papers filed at court ahead of the trial, which is due to last three months, Saipov is reported to have told FBI agents who interviewed him that he “felt good about what he did.”

A note from Saipov discovered in the van claimed that the attack was carried out on behalf of ISIS.

Saipov, who lived in New Jersey with his wife, arrived in the United States in 2010 and worked as a long-distance lorry driver.

He is said to have become radicalised as a result of ISIS propaganda.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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