Accused New York City bomber pleads not guilty
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Suspected bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi appears via video in a New Jersey state courtroom from his hospital bed, where he is recovering from gunshot wounds suffered during his arrest, in Elizabeth, New Jersey October 13, 2016. REUTERS/Ed Murray/Pool
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By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Accused New York bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi pleaded not guilty on Thursday to federal charges that he set off an explosive device in September on a crowded city street, injuring 30 people.
Wearing a dark blue jump suit, Rahimi, 28, shuffled slowly into federal court in Manhattan and had several coughing fits during the brief hearing. He suffered serious injuries in a shootout with police two days after the bombing.
He spoke only once, when U.S. District Judge Richard Berman asked him to confirm that he intended to plead not guilty to an eight-count indictment filed on Wednesday.
"Yes, sir," Rahimi said.
Prosecutors have accused the Afghan-born U.S. citizen of setting off an explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood on Sept. 17. It did not kill anyone but hurt 30 people.
The attack came hours after authorities say another pipe bomb planted by Rahimi went off along the course of a charity road race in New Jersey, although that detonation did not injure anyone.
Federal prosecutors also say Rahimi left another bomb in Chelsea that did not go off and several explosive devices in a bag at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
In addition to the New York indictment, Rahimi faces charges from federal and state prosecutors in New Jersey.
He was captured after a manhunt that ended when police officers discovered him sleeping in the doorway of a bar in Linden, New Jersey. The confrontation left him with several gunshot wounds, delaying the filing of federal charges and forcing him to make his first court appearance in New Jersey from a hospital bed.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Lewin told Berman that prosecutors had compiled video clips showing Rahimi's movements on the day of the bombings, including leaving his house carrying bags, walking on West 23rd Street where the device went off and planting the second bomb on West 27th Street.
He also said the government has records showing Rahimi purchased bomb components online and DNA evidence tying him to the bombs.
Lewin asked Berman to consider a trial date in the "late winter" or "early spring," saying the amount of evidence in the case is relatively limited. Berman scheduled court dates for Dec. 19 and Jan. 31 but has not set a trial date.
Rahimi's court-appointed defense lawyers declined to comment after the hearing.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Alistair Bell and Dan Grebler)
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