New York man expected in court over slaying of Muslim imam, assistant

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Police question suspect in slaying of Muslim cleric

Aug 16 (Reuters) - A New York man is expected to appear in court on Tuesday after being charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of a New York Muslim imam and his assistant, who were gunned down over the weekend, police said.

The charges against Oscar Morel, 35, of Brooklyn, came on Monday just hours after hundreds of mourners gathered for the outdoor funeral of the two men. The killings in the borough of Queens shocked the neighborhood's Bangladeshi community.

Morel was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 64, a spokesman for the New York Police Department said.

He also was charged with two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The spokesman did not disclose any possible motive for the shooting.

Photos from the incident:

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A man cries as community members take part in a protest to demand stop hate crime after the funeral service of Imam Maulama Akonjee, and Thara Uddin in the Queens borough of New York City, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
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Police said Morel was being held early on Tuesday morning and was expected to be arraigned later in the day.

Morel had been questioned by police following his arrest on charges related to a hit-and-run traffic accident on Saturday, the day of the shootings.

Akonjee and Uddin were shot in the head at close range after Saturday prayers at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque in Queens' Ozone Park section.

Police said there was no known connection between the man being questioned and the murder victims.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, addressing the funeral, promised the city would bolster the police presence in the neighborhood even though the motive behind the killings was still unclear.

Police had said earlier that there was no evidence the men were targeted because of their faith but nothing was being ruled out.

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