Published On: Wed, Aug 24th, 2016

New York grand jury charges man with murder of Muslim cleric


NEW YORK: A New York City grand jury on Monday indicted a Brooklyn man who is accused of fatally shooting a Muslim cleric and his assistant this month after they left a mosque in Queens.

Oscar Morel, 35, was charged with one count of first degree murder, two counts of second degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, court documents showed. He has denied committing the killings.

Also Read: NY man in court charged with murdering Muslim cleric, assistant

“The defendant’s alleged actions strike at the very heart of our county’s Muslim community,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement on Monday. “Both victims were gentlemen of peace and their deaths are a devastating loss to their families and the community that they served.”

Imam Maulana Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 64, were gunned down after they left their mosque on Saturday, Aug. 13, in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens in an attack that shocked the area’s largely Bangladeshi community.

Authorities have said the gunman’s motive remains unclear and the possibility it was a hate crime is being investigated.

Morel, who has been held without bail since his initial court appearance last week, will be arraigned on the grand jury’s indictment at a later date.

If convicted, he faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Akonjee, a father of seven, emigrated to the United States from Bangladesh several years ago. Community members who knew him well described the slain imam as a humble man who lived and breathed his religious faith. –REUTERS

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Dan Grebler)

Morel appears for an arraignment at the Queens Criminal Court for his alleged involvement in the murder of Imam Akonjee and Uddin in Queens New York

Suspect Oscar Morel appears for an arraignment at the Queens Criminal Court for his alleged involvement in the murder of Imam Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin in Queens, New York, U.S. on August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Dennis A. Clark/Pool/File Photo


Courtesy: Reuters

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology