Dr. Aafia Formally Charged in American Court
NEW YORK: Dr Aafia Siddiqui formally charged in American court for trying to kill a group of US soldiers at an Afghan police compound in July 2008 with a rifle she had snatched from a soldier.
Dr Aafia’s lawyer, however, rejected the charge, saying that there’s no evidence to support the claim.
Assistant US Attorney Jenna M. Dabbs told a court here that Dr Aafia, who had been taken into custody by authorities in Afghanistan in July 2008, took an army soldier’s M-4 assault rifle and attempted to shoot the assembled agents and soldiers.
However, Charles D. Swift, Dr Aafia’s lawyer, said that there’s no evidence that she ever touched or fired the M-4 rifle. In his opening statement, Swift said that the soldiers had given different versions of where she was when the M-4 was allegedly fired and how many shots were fired.
The lawyer said a bullet and shell casings from the 9mm handgun were found in the room, but no bullets or bullet fragments from the M-4 were found in the room.
In her opening statement, the prosecutor described the scene inside the interrogation room where Dr Aafia allegedly tried to snatch a rifle from the soldier and was shot and wounded in the process as chaotic but admitted that the FBI didn’t return to examine the room until six days after the incident.
Dr Aafia, 37, is on trial on US District Court in Manhattan on a seven-count indictment that includes charges of attempted murder, armed assault on US officers and employees and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. She faces up to 20 years in prison on the attempted murder charges and life in prison on the firearms charge.
Dr Aafia, who was wearing a white headscarf over tan prison garb on Tuesday, has denied wrongdoing. However, she has said she doesn’t recognise the legitimacy of the proceedings and refused at times to appear in court for proceedings.
Aafia Siddiqui yelled at jurors during the first day of her trial, saying she had been held in a secret prison.
She had to be led out of the courtroom after disrupting the testimony of one of the witnesses.
Assistant US Attorney Jenna Dabbs told jurors Ms Siddiqui was taken into custody by Afghan police in July because she was carrying containers of unidentified chemicals and notes referring to mass-casualty attacks and New York landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge.
A protest demonstration was also staged for release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui outside the court.
Pakistan America Freedom Forum (PAFF) staged demonstration asking for release of Aafia Siddiqui and other missing persons in Pakistan.
The protesters also demanded immediate closure of Gitmo prison.