Accused Russian Taliban faces unprecedented US trial

  A former Soviet army officer accused of being a Taliban fighter goes on trial on Thursday as the first military prisoner from Afghanistan to be tried in US federal court.

Reuters| Last Updated: Jul 30, 2015, 17:09 PM IST

Richmond:  A former Soviet army officer accused of being a Taliban fighter goes on trial on Thursday as the first military prisoner from Afghanistan to be tried in US federal court.

Irek Hamidullin, believed to be in his 50s, faces 15 criminal counts ranging from supporting terrorists to firearms charges related to his alleged orchestration of a 2009 attack on an Afghan Border Police base in eastern Afghanistan`s Khost province.

His trial had been scheduled to begin on Monday in Richmond`s U.S. District Court. Judge Henry Hudson ordered it delayed to give Hamidullin`s lawyers time to examine Defense Department evidence turned over on Saturday.

Hamidullin, a former officer and tank commander for the Soviet Union in the early 1980s, was indicted by a grand jury in October 2014.

Pre-trial hearings and motions have centered on whether Hamidullin could be tried in the United States for actions as an insurgent in Afghanistan. Hudson last month rejected a motion by Hamidullin`s attorneys to throw out the indictment.

Hamidullin is charged with ordering his men to set up a machine gun and a recoilless rifle to fire on U.S. military helicopters. After the attack failed, Hamidullin opened fire on Afghan and U.S. forces with a machine gun, prosecutors said.

He was wounded and captured as the sole Taliban survivor of the assault. No Americans or Afghan security personnel were killed.

The charges against Hamidullin also include attempting to destroy a U.S. military aircraft, conspiracy and attempting to kill a U.S. official.

Federal public defenders are representing Hamidullin. He faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted.