Haji Najibullah, accused of attacking US troops in Afghanistan in 2008, said the allegations were false.
The lawyer for a former Taliban commander accused of killing US troops in Afghanistan in 2008 said it was “unreasonable” to accuse his client of killing him in the US-led war.
Haji Najibullah, 5, was convicted of the charges in a federal court in Manhattan on Friday and told the judge that the allegations were “false.”
U.S. prosecutors announced last week that they were accusing Najibullah of attacking a U.S. military convoy of Taliban fighters in June 200 with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and other explosives.
The attack killed three U.S. military members and their Afghan interpreter.
“As alleged, during the most dangerous period in Afghanistan, Haji Najibullah led a vicious group of Taliban insurgents who terrorized parts of Afghanistan and attacked U.S. forces,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss of the Southern District of New York said in an Oct. 7 statement.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko added, “He will now be held accountable in an American courtroom.”
Najibullah’s lawyer, Mark Gambina, said Friday that the evidence would prove that the allegations were not true.
He said the deaths of American soldiers were a “huge tragedy”, but that it was “unreasonable” that “his client should be held responsible for the deaths of American soldiers fighting in the US courtroom” in the war started by the United States.
Al Jazeera’s Kristen Salumi, reporting from New York, said U.S. prosecutors rejected the argument, saying there was a legal precedent for bringing such allegations.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for November 1 and it is expected to “take some time to work through the court,” Salumi said.
Najibullah, 200, was already in US custody after being accused of abducting an American journalist and two Afghan nationals. He was arrested in October last year and extradited from Ukraine to the United States, where he faces up to life in prison if convicted.
The request comes about two months after the planned withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan after nearly 20 months of war. The United States has been pushing for an unofficial evacuation of the Taliban-held capital, Kabul.
The United States held its first private meeting with top Taliban leaders last weekend. A top Afghan diplomat said the meeting in Doha, the capital of Qatar, saw senior senior Taliban officials and U.S. representatives discussing “opening a new page” in their country’s relations.
Biden administration officials later said the talks were “clear and professional.”