- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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.

Vladislav Miftakhov, 18, formerly of San Carlos, Calif., is charged with possessing unregistered bombs and related materials near the Penn State-Altoona campus.

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.

The court heard testimony that Miftakhov had been seen setting off explosive devices, which defense attorney Chris Brown characterized as typical young adult male behavior.

“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.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide