The trial of New York terrorist Sayfullo Saipov is to be dropped
The death penalty trial of West Side Highway terrorist Sayfullo Saipov was screeched Thursday afternoon when his father’s emotional testimony sparked an outburst from his uncle, who yelled “filthy ISIS bastards” and banged his fist on a door in the crowded courtroom.
The dramatic explosion outside federal court in Manhattan caused a relative of a Belgian tourist killed by Saipov in 2017 during his truck driver rampage to collapse and prompted US District Judge Vernon Broderick to remove the jury from the room.
The disruption followed testimony from Saipov’s father, Habibulloh Saipov, who sobbed uncontrollably on the witness stand while responding to questions from defense attorney David Stern about whether he still loves his son.
“You know everything you do about your son and what he did, do you still love him?” Stern asked.
“With all my heart,” replied Habibulloh.
The father, who is flying back to Uzbekistan on Friday, said that seeing his son in person for the last time on Thursday would mean something to him.
“It is important for his children to know that their father is alive,” testified Habibulloh.
The elder Saipov was not cross-examined by federal prosecutors and was allowed to walk past the jury in tears – and past the defense table where his son sat with his lawyers.
At that moment Sayfullo Saipov’s uncle rose from a seat on the right side of the courtroom gallery where relatives of the convicted terrorist were following the trial this week.
“Filthy ISIS bastards!” According to a court interpreter, the man yelled in Uzbek as he exited the room.
The uncle, who was later to testify at the trial, banged his closed fist on the courtroom door as he left the courtroom.
A relative of victim Ann-Laure Decadt then began sobbing from the courtroom gallery, and Broderick let the jury – who are weighing whether to sentence Saipov to death or life in prison – leave the room.
The trial then paused, and prosecutors said they could request that the remaining defense witnesses not be allowed to testify.
The trial resumed about two hours later – just after 4:00 p.m. – and the defense called another of Sayfullo’s uncles to testify.
Before testimony began, defense attorney David Patton said they no longer intend to call the uncle who yelled in court as a witness, and Broderick said he would be banned from the courthouse until the trial was over.
The judge instructed the jury that the outburst was not aimed at anyone in the courtroom or the criminal process. He added they shouldn’t weigh anything that happens during their deliberations at the gallery.
Broderick also instructed everyone on the gallery to leave the courtroom if they can’t control their emotions, and acknowledged the trial was probably “one of the most emotional events of your life.”
Habibulloh took the stand Thursday morning as the second witness summoned by his son’s defense attorneys in the penalty phase of the terrorism trial.
“He committed a terrible tragedy. It caused the deaths of eight people, injuries to many more and ruined their lives,” the elder Saipov told jurors of his son’s assault.
“I feel very bad about it. I want to apologize to all, all of the victims,” he added, before being stopped by the judge.
After a brief discussion, defense attorney David Stern asked the father specifically how he felt about the attack.
“My soul has been destroyed,” he replied.
A Manhattan grand jury in January convicted Saipov on 28 counts, nine of which carried the maximum sentence of death.
Since his conviction, prosecutors and defense attorneys have presented evidence and interviewed witnesses during the penalty phase of the trial.
The jury must unanimously sentence Saipov to death.
https://nypost.com/2023/02/23/saipov-trial-screeches-to-halt-after-dramatic-courtroom-outburst/ The trial of New York terrorist Sayfullo Saipov is to be dropped