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Source: Yale Daily News
Date: April 4, 2007
Byline: Charlotte Martin

One of three students released on bail after flag-burning arrests

Two of the Yale students who were arrested early Tuesday for burning an American flag hanging from a Chapel Street home remained incarcerated this morning, but the third student made bond and was released yesterday.

According to court records, Hyder Akbar '07, Nikolaos Angelopoulos '09 and Farhad Anklesaria '09 were charged with multiple counts of second degree arson, first degree reckless endangerment, third degree criminal mischief and second degree breach of peace. There is no indication in the police report that the fire caused damage to the house itself.

Akbar, a Silliman College senior, was born in Pakistan but is an American citizen raised in California. Akbar 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 is the former governor of an Afghan province.

Saybrook College freshmen Angelopoulos and Anklesaria are Greek and British citizens, respectively.

According to New Haven Police Department spokeswoman Bonnie Posick, the students said lighting the flag on fire "was a stupid thing to do" when they admitted it to the arresting officers.

Posick said police officers first encountered the students when they passed the trio while driving down Chapel Street into Fair Haven. The students flagged the officers down, she said, asking them how to get back to campus.

The students told the officers they had been visiting a friend and had gotten lost while returning home, she said.

Later, when the officers were driving back down Chapel Street to see if the students had found their way back, they saw that a flag hanging off of 512 Chapel St. was engulfed in flames, Posick said. One officer removed the flag from its pole because the flames were approaching the awning the above, she said, while the other officer stopped the students, who were down the street. Posick said the report did not mention any additional damage to the building, and that it also did not say whether or not the students had been intoxicated at the time.

"There is no indication in the report that they were impaired in any way," she said. "[But] you're not going to do a field sobriety test if someone is just walking [and not driving]."

Contrary to a rumor floating around campus, the building involved is not the home of Sen. Joe Lieberman.

According to court reports, the charges against the students initially included two counts of reckless burning, which were later changed to two counts of second degree arson at yesterday's arraignment.

All three of them surrendered their passports to the court, according to the court reports. Akbar and Angelopoulos have bails set at $25,000, while Anklesaria's was set at $15,000. Akbar and Anklesaria failed to pay bail, but Angelopoulos made bond and was released yesterday, according to officials at the Connecticut Correctional Center where they were being held. This is the first time any of them have been charged with a crime, the court reports said.

The students are next set to appear in court at a plea hearing on April 10.

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