New York-area bomb sus­pect pleads not guilty

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICAS -

The man ac­cused of last month’s bomb­ings in New York and New Jer­sey that in­jured dozens of peo­ple made his first court ap­pear­ance on Thurs­day from a hos­pi­tal bed, plead­ing not guilty to at­tempt­ing to mur­der po­lice of­fi­cers.

Ah­mad Khan Rahimi, 28, whose last name had pre­vi­ously been re­ported as Ra­hami, ap­peared via live video on a tele­vi­sion screen in a court­room in El­iz­a­beth, New Jer­sey, from the Ne­wark hos­pi­tal where he has been re­cov­er­ing from gun­shot wounds suf­fered dur­ing a shootout with po­lice.

With his court-ap­pointed lawyer, Peter Liguori, stand­ing bed­side in hos­pi­tal scrubs, Rahimi lay still with a blan­ket pulled up to his neck dur­ing the hear­ing.

Rahimi, said by US au­thor­i­ties to have been in­spired by rad­i­cal ji­hadism, spoke in a quiet voice, an­swer­ing “yes” to sev­eral ques­tions from Union County Su­pe­rior Court Judge Regina Caulfield about whether he un­der­stood the charges and wished Liguori to rep­re­sent him.

Liguori told the judge that his client’s last name was spelled “Rahimi”.

The hear­ing, which lasted only a few min­utes, con­cerned state charges against him stem­ming from a gun­fight with po­lice on Sept 19, after an of­fi­cer dis­cov­ered him sleep­ing in the door­way of a bar.

Rahimi, a US ci­ti­zen born in Afghanistan, is also fac­ing fed­eral charges of us­ing weapons of mass de­struc­tion and bomb­ing a place of public use in New York and New Jer­sey.

He is ac­cused of set­ting off an ex­plo­sive in Man­hat­tan’s Chelsea neigh­bor­hood that in­jured 31 peo­ple and det­o­nat­ing a pipe bomb near a char­ity run­ning race in the New Jer­sey shore town of Sea­side Park on Sept 17.

In ad­di­tion, Rahimi is charged with plant­ing another pres­sure-cooker bomb in Chelsea that did not go off and with leav­ing sev­eral de­vices at a train sta­tion in El­iz­a­beth, just blocks from the court­house where he ap­peared on video on Thurs­day.

One of those ex­plo­sives det­o­nated when a bomb squad ro­bot at­tempted to defuse it. None of the blasts killed any­one.

It re­mains un­clear when Rahimi will ap­pear in fed­eral court, but it is likely he will face charges there be­fore New Jer­sey’s state case pro­ceeds to trial.

The hear­ing had been de­layed while Rahimi, who was un­con­scious for weeks, re­cov­ered from his in­juries. Two of­fi­cers suf­fered in­juries in the shootout, and at least one of them at­tended the hear­ing on Thurs­day.

KENA BETANCUR / AFP

Bomb­ing sus­pect Ah­mad Khan Rahimi par­tic­i­pates in his first court ap­pear­ance via video in El­iz­a­beth, New Jer­sey while he re­mains at Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal in Ne­wark on Thurs­day.

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