RICHMOND, Va. -- An accused terrorist appeared in a federal courtroom in downtown Richmond Friday to face charges tied to a November 2009 attack in the Khost Province of Afghanistan. While an interpreter translated most of the court proceedings for Irek Ilgiz Hamidullin, the accused answered "not guilty" in English when the judge asked for his plea.
During Friday's hearing, a trial date was set for April 13, 2015. The trial was expected to late three to five days.
Last month Hamidullin, 55, was indicted on charges that include conspiring to provide and providing material support to terrorists; conspiring and attempting to destroy an aircraft of the armed forces of the United States; and conspiring and attempting to murder a national of the United States.
Hamidullin, who was shackled during Friday's hearing, faces four life sentences if convicted of the crimes.
Following the hearing, Hamidullin has returned to the custody of U.S. Marshals.
A Department of Justice spokesperson would not comment as to why Richmond was chosen as the venue for this trial.
John Davis, a former Department of Justice prosecutor said it does not surprise him that Richmond would be chosen for a case like this. Davis said the Eastern District of Virginia is one of the two go to places for the Department of Justice.
"We have a long experience of prosecuting espionage cases involving CIA and the Pentagon," Davis said.
Hamidullin has been in custody since November 2009.