POW Or Criminal? Appeals Court to Hear Taliban Fighter Case

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A fight over whether the U.S. government properly prosecuted a former Russian military tank commander convicted of leading a Taliban attack on American forces is heading to a federal appeals court.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia will hear arguments Friday in the case of Irek Hamidullin.

Hamidullin was accused of leading insurgents in a 2009 attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He was sentenced last year to life in prison.

Hamidullin’s attorneys want the court to throw out his convictions. They argue he should have been treated as a prisoner of war and therefore shielded from criminal prosecution.

Prosecutors counter that fighters aligned with the Taliban don’t qualify for lawful combatant status because they don’t adhere to the laws and customs of war, among other things.

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