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Magistrate won’t bar release of Pa. bomb suspect
PITTSBURGH (AP) - A federal magistrate has rejected a request from prosecutors to bar a university student from Russia from being released on bail amid charges that he made bombs in his central Pennsylvania apartment.
U.S. Magistrate Keith Pesto ruled Monday that enough evidence had been presented to send the charges to a federal grand jury but said he would not order the defendant’s detention. He suggested that Miftakhov would be allowed to return to California while awaiting trial, but he agreed to stay that decision to allow prosecutors to appeal.
“Call me old, but this is what boys do,” Brown said.
He argued that the case has received national attention only because of the defendant’s country of origin.
“The fact he is Russian should have no importance in this case,” Brown said, adding that public concern stemmed from last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, which allegedly was carried out by a Russia-born college student and his brother.
“I don’t think we have another marathon bombing,” Pesto said in denying U.S. Attorney James Kitchen’s request for detention. Kitchen argued that Miftakhov had no strong ties to the area and could pose a danger to the community.
Police said they found a note saying “If you find this, you will never find me,” rolled up and stored inside a bullet casing.
There was also the letter “A”?with a circle around it, which Ben Cornali, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said can represent “anarchist symbolism.”
Miftakhov initially said the items were used to make bottle rockets and fireworks, Cornali said. But police allege that when he was told that the materials weren’t consistent with that purpose, the defendant said he intended to blow things up.
“He didn’t say if it was a watermelon versus a car with somebody in it,” said Brown, who argued that his client had blown up only dirt in a field and said there was no evidence that he intended to injure anyone.
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