Convicted Russian Taliban fighter to be sentenced in U.S. next month

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 06, 2015 2:52 PM

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) - The first enemy combatant from Afghanistan to be found guilty in a U.S. federal court of charges related to helping Taliban fighters will be sentenced next month, a judge ruled on Friday, according to a defense attorney.

Irek Hamidullin, a former Russian army officer who became a Muslim jihadist, was convicted by a federal jury in Richmond, Virginia, in August on 15 charges tied to a Nov. 28, 2009 attack by Taliban-related insurgents on an Afghan police base.

The charges included conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, material support for terrorists, attempting to destroy a U.S. military aircraft and attempting to kill an officer of the United States.

Hamidullin, who is about 55, will be sentenced on Dec. 3, Assistant Federal Public Defender Paul G. Gill said in an e-mail following a Friday hearing in the case. He could face life in prison.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson denied a defense motion that would have compelled the government to produce any additional mitigating evidence including crime scene details and other data that might be in the government's possession.

"The Court need not sift through each and every request by Defendant to produce exculpatory and mitigating evidence," Hudson said in a written order.

During his trial, Hamidullin declined to testify in his own defense in the precedent-setting case.

One of the main arguments of his defense team was that Hamidullin was a lawful combatant and could not be prosecuted for attacking U.S. aircraft and military personnel.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Andrew Hay)