By Rima Abdelkader
Friday, February 5, 2010
Pakistan-born Aafia Siddiqui was found guilty this week by a federal jury in New York on charges of attempted murder and armed assault. During the controversial trial, prosecutors were accused of using fear-mongering tactics.
"The government has cast Aafia Siddiqui as some sort of Rambo type . . . who lived to tell the tale," said Moreno. She questioned how a 100-pound, 5-foot woman could take on a group of U.S. trained officers.
"Dr. Siddiqui's family is concerned about Aafia's mental health right now and her family is worried if the FBI or the U.S. government has news on her missing children," Foster said.
Siddiqui's eldest son Ahmed is safe with his mother's sister in Pakistan, a family friend who didn't want to be named told Women's eNews. Questions surrounding her two missing children, 12-year old Mariam, a U.S. citizen, and 7-year old Suleiman, a Pakistani citizen, remain. The International Justice Network is asking people with knowledge of their whereabouts to contact them.
The defense provided video evidence immediately before the jury went into deliberation on Feb. 1 of bullet holes in the room where the shots were fired to show that the holes were there before the incident. Moreno said there was no physical evidence establishing that Siddiqui "touched," "let alone fired" the M-4 rifle.
Prosecutor Rody, seen sometimes lifting and showing the M-4 rifle to the jury, said the projectiles from the suspected fired shots might have hit furniture in the room, which may have been removed before FBI Special Agent Gordon Hurley was assigned to investigate the incident six days later.
"Science alone doesn't have all of the answers," the prosecution answered in a rebuttal. They repeated to the jury that Siddiqui had an intention to kill and a motive to do it.
The family's spokesperson said the defense team is going to appeal on grounds that the judge permitted the prosecution to submit evidence that Siddiqui was involved in terrorism and to tell the jury initially that the defendant was a dangerous person, as well as on grounds that increased security surrounding the trial biased the jury's decision.
"It gave the impression of heightened danger . . . that definitely had an impact on the mood in the courtroom," said Foster.
Observers at the Manhattan courtroom said they were bothered by having to pass through two checkpoints, one on the ground floor, another just outside the courtroom, and by having to undergo identification checks in which court security officers would record names and home addresses and ask for signatures.
The defense told Berman at the start of the 12-day trial that these security measures were "highly prejudicial." Berman promised to look into the matter and later justified the measures on the grounds that the Martha Stewart trial involved the same procedures.
Comrade Shahid, the secretary general of the Pakistan USA Freedom Forum, a group of Pakistani immigrants in New York advocating for human rights, said the guilty verdict would surely inspire mass protests around the world, and bombings, not just in Pakistan. Siddiqui, however, has asked through one of her defense attorneys that no protests occur. The U.S. verdict has already sparked protests in Pakistan.
Siddiqui is scheduled to be sentenced on May 6, 2010, and she could face up to life in prison.
Rima Abdelkader is a multimedia journalist in New York City who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @rimakader on Twitter. You can catch her recent interview with Christiane Amanpour on the set of "Amanpour" for CUNY TV on Twitter Video here: http://www.twitvid.com/E4DAE.
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