Truck attack: Trump tweets NYC suspect ‘should get death penalty’

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U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a briefing on hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Dallas, Texas, U.S, October 25, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a briefing on hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Dallas, Texas, U.S, October 25, 2017. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he wanted the death penalty for the New York City truck attack suspect. The statement comes after an Uzbek immigrant was accused of killing eight people by speeding a truck down a bike path.

The president tweeted on Wednesday that NYC terrorist Sayfullo Saipov delightedly asked to hang the ISIS flag in his hospital room. In his tweet, Trump noted that he killed eight people and severely injured wo, and that he “should get death penalty.”

On Thursday, Trump appeared to reiterate his call. He tweeted that he would love to see Saipov in Guantanamo, “but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system.” He also wrote, “There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed- should move fast- death penalty!”

Saipov has been charged of causing the deaths of eight and providing resources and material support to the Islamic State, a foreign terrorist organisation. He was accused of driving a truck down Manhattan’s west side. He was shot by police and was hospitalised.

According to a criminal complaint, the 29-year-old told investigators that he started planning the attack a year ago. He said he had been inspired by watching Islamic State videos.

Legal experts reacted on Trump’s call for the death penalty, saying his advocacy could make prosecution more difficult. Anna Cominsky, a law professor at New York Law School, said that such a statement before a trial “absolutely influences jurors” since it comes from the most powerful person in the United States.

“What happened here was a horrible tragedy, but our constitution says no matter how egregious a crime, a defendant is innocent until proven guilty and in effect the president has already said the person is guilty,” Cominsky said, according to The Guardian. According to her, the legal community was surprised, finding the particular comment “alarming.”

It was in 1954 when a federal case tried in New York ended in an execution. Ronnell Wilson was sentenced to death for killing two undercover detectives in 2003, but the sentence was overturned due to his reduced mental capacity.

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