Three Elis’ plea hearing for burning a flag postponed until next week

The plea hearing for three Yale students charged last week with burning an American flag attached to a Chapel Street home was postponed yesterday.

Hyder Akbar ’07, Nikolaos Angelopoulos ’10 and Farhad Anklesaria ’10 had their plea hearing, originally scheduled for Tuesday, rescheduled to April 18, according to court officials. All three were charged with multiple counts of second-degree arson, first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace after their arrests on April 3.

The three students sat in the back of the courtroom on Tuesday morning as other defendants made their pleas before the judge. The students appeared calm and were accompanied by a few other people, including Saybrook College Master Mary Miller, until they departed mid-morning.

Last Thursday, their attorney William Dow III ’63 told the News that the incident was not politically motivated and that Akbar took full responsibility for the “stupid college prank.” The other two, he said, “were at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The outcome of the case could be especially significant for the two Saybrook freshmen, as they are foreign citizens. Angelopoulos is Greek and Anklesaria is British. Ann Kuhlman, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars, has said the arrests could affect the two students’ immigration status.

Akbar, though born in Pakistan, is an American citizen raised in California. He worked as an informal translator for U.S. forces during the invasion of Afghanistan and later published a memoir, “Come Back to Afghanistan,” based on his experiences there. His father formerly governed an Afghan province after the fall of the Taliban.

Dow could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

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