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Richmond court serves as setting for historic terror trial

Posted at 2:28 PM, Jul 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-30 14:28:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The trial for terror suspect Irek Hamidullin got underway with jury selection Monday at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Richmond. Hamidullin, prosecutors allege, has ties to the Taliban.

The trial opened Thursday with jury selection. The jury pool was so big, U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson asked everyone other than the prosecution and the defense lawyers to leave the courtroom.

Once a jury is selected, they will hear evidence against Hamidullin, who was captured in 2009 on the battlefield.  He is accused of leading a Taliban force against an Afghanistan police camp, plotting to shoot down U.S. helicopters, and then firing at U.S. forces that arrived later.

The start of this trial was delayed by two days.  In a brief order filed Monday, Judge Hudson announced the change citing additional - but unspecified - evidence discovered by the government that could be of value to the defense of Hamidullin.

This is the first time a military detainee from Afghanistan has been brought to the U.S. for trial.  It represents an attempt by the Obama administration to show it can use the criminal court system to deal with terror suspects.

Hamidullin was indicted back in April on 12 charges that included providing material support to terrorists, attempting to destroy a U.S. military aircraft, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempted to kill an officer of the United States.  If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.