Fazliddin Kurbanov made his first appearance in federal court this morning, dressed in yellow-and-white striped scrubs stamped “Ada County Jail” on the back and speaking through an interpreter. Kurbanov, a 30-year-old truck driver from Uzbekistan, is charged with providing material support to terrorists and possession of a destructive device. “For the record, has the defendant been read the indictment in his native language?” Judge Mikel Williams asked. “He has, your honor,” replied federal defender Richard Rubin, who appeared with Kurbanov in court this morning along with Boise attorney Thomas Monaghan; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
“Does the defendant understand the nature of the charges against him and the maximum penalty that can be applied as to each of those counts?” the judge asked. Kurbanov, who has a short, neatly trimmed beard and a full head of dark hair parted on the side, listened to the interpreter on the telephone, then nodded and shrugged. He entered a plea of not guilty to all three of the charges, which each carry penalties of up to 15 years in prison.
The initial appearance was delayed for close to 40 minutes as Rubin got his first chance to meet with his client; they spoke in the courtroom, while the other attorneys and audience waited outside. An interpreter in California translated for Kurbanov into Russian via telephone. Asked if Kurbanov speaks any English, Rubin said, “Very little, very little.”
Kurbanov, who was legally present in the country at the time of his arrest and was living in Boise, struggled to follow the proceedings as he held a corded phone handset to his ear to listen to the interpreter. Court officials said they are working on getting an interpreter to be present in court for Kurbanov’s detention hearing, which was set for May 21 at 1:30. The judge said, “All right. That’ll make things work a little smoother.”
The judge questioned Kurbanov about his financial status in relation to whether he qualifies to have an attorney appointed for him. “The financial affidavit states that you were working as a truck driver up to the time of your arrest, is that correct?” Williams asked. The interpreter said, “Yes,” as Kurbanov nodded. “It also states that other than some used automobiles and a small amount of money in a checking or savings account, you have no other assets or money or funds to hire your own attorney. Is that correct?” the judge asked. After some repeating and pauses, the interpreter told the court via speaker, “That’s correct, your honor.”
The judge then appointed the federal defender to represent Kurbanov, and advised Kurbanov of his rights, including that he’s presumed innocent and the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. He set the trial in his case for July 2 before U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, though delays likely will push that back.