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Terror Suspect Shahzad Appears in Court, Briefly

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of driving a car bomb into Times Square, appeared in court Tuesday for the first time since his May 3 arrest.

He walked in quietly dressed in a grey sweatshirt and sweatpants. His hair was a bit longer than it has been in photographs published by the media. He wasn't handcuffed during the proceeding. He sat down, and mostly stayed silent during the entire hearing. By his side was his court appointed attorney, Julia Gatto from the federal defenders of New York, who was assigned to Shahzad's case today. On the other side of the courtroom sat four federal prosecutors and one FBI agent.

The hearing itself was routine. Magistrate Judge James Francis told Shahzad he had the right to remain silent, read the five charges against him -- including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction -- and then told him that he faced a maximum of life in prison. Shahzad's attorney confirmed that her client did, indeed, waive his right to a speedy presentation. All sides agreed that Shahzad would be held without bail. But Shahzad's court-appointed lawyer did make one request: that Shahzad receive halal meals -- ones prepared according to Islamic dietary laws -- while in custody.

The only word Shahzad muttered during his appearance was "yes," when asked to confirm an affidavit about his finances. His court visit took all of ten minutes, and he did not enter a plea.

Shahzad has been held in an undisclosed location since his arrest, and federal authorities say he's been cooperating with investigators. His next court hearing is scheduled for June 1.

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