Govt seeks lawyers to defend Aafia Siddiqui
NEW YORK: The government is seeking new lawyers to represent US-trained Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who faces a possible life prison sentence for the attempted murder of US interrogators in Afghanistan. Aafia, 37, who the US government has accused of links with Al Qaeda, was recently ruled fit to stand trial after a hearing in which her defence lawyers argued she was delusional, while prosecution witnesses suggested she was exaggerating a mental disorder.
Following that ruling, the government elected “to retain counsel on Dr Siddiqui’s behalf”, according to court paper’s recently filed by lawyers seeking to act on behalf of Aafia. Her current lawyer does not object. US District Judge Richard Berman this week ordered a hearing to take place within the next few weeks to determine who will represent Aafia.
A spokesperson for the Pakistan embassy in Washington was not immediately available for comment. Aafia also filed a rambling two-page letter to the judge in which she did not address the issue of who should represent her. “I really am innocent of the charges stated against me and I was in prison before that too and tortured badly to make me state what they wanted me to – and my children,” she said towards the end of the letter. Her trial date is currently set for Oct. 19.