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NY attack suspect faces expanded 22-count indictment

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New York
– The Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in New York in the name of the Islamic State group has been slapped with murder charges, US prosecutors said Tuesday.

A grand jury returned a 22-count indictment against Sayfullo Saipov after prosecutors initially announced only two: provision of material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, and violence and destruction of motor vehicles.

The 29-year-old from New Jersey now faces an additional eight counts of murder in aid of racketeering and 12 counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering.

His initial court appearance in connection with the indictment is scheduled for November 28. He is expected to enter a plea at that time.

If convicted on the murder and vehicle destruction charges, he would face a maximum penalty of life in prison or death, prosecutors said.

President Donald Trump has called for him to be executed, but a capital punishment case would be extremely rare in New York, which has abolished the death penalty at the state level.

The October 31 attack was the worst in the US financial capital since the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda hijackings that brought down the Twin Towers.

Saipov allegedly drove a rented pickup truck down a mile-long stretch of bike path in Manhattan, where children and their parents were preparing to celebrate Halloween.

Of the eight people killed, five were friends from Argentina celebrating 30 years since their high school graduation. Twelve other people were wounded.

The attack ended when police shot Saipov in the abdomen.

He is now in federal custody. Investigators say he confessed to acting in the name of IS and told them he “felt good” about the killings.- AFP