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Aafia charged with assault, attempted murder

WASHINGTON: Dr Aafia Siddiqui was indicted on Tuesday by a United States district attorney on “charges related to her attempted murder and assault of US nationals and officers and employees”, a charge, which, if proved, could send her to prison for life.

While the US intelligence officials have told Pakistani officials in past weeks that there is coercive evidence in their possession linking the Pakistani scientist to terrorism and Al Qaeda, surprisingly no such charge has been brought against her. Siddiqui’s supporters and well wishers are relieved, and so reportedly is her lawyer, that she has not been charged with terrorism. There can be two reasons for this: one that the prosecution is fairly confident that it can obtain a conviction without charging her with terrorism; and, two, that the prosecution does not want to disclose information that would have had to be made public were Siddiqui to be charged with terrorism. Her lawyer, Elizabeth Fink told the press, “These are totally ludicrous claims. A woman gets in a cab, never to be seen again, and five years later, she shows up in Afghanistan and gets a gun away from the US military. This stuff is from the Dark Side.”

Siddiqui is to be arraigned on the indictment on Thursday, Septemeber 4 before Judge Richar M Breman of the US district court for the southern district of New York on “charges related to her attempted murder and assault of US nationals and officers and employees”. The prosecution is not going to be able to produce independent witnesses, since the alleged acts were committed in the presence of the US and Afghan military and intelligence personnel in Ghazni.

Since Siddiqui is a Pakistani citizen, under international law, it was incumbent on the Afghan government to inform the Pakistan government of her arrest before handing her over to a third country, something it failed to do. This is a matter that Islamabad, if it so decides, can take up at the International Court of Justice, according to a lawyer.

Not guilty: However, Siddiqui would plead not guilty at her arraignment in a federal court on Thursday on an indictment alleging attempted murder and assault of the US agents, APPher lawyer as saying on Tuesday. Fink also expressed concern that Siddiqui remained in need of medical attention. “She needs further tests,” the lawyer was quoted as saying in The New York Times. “She needs treatment. She needs care. She needs human rights. And they “are not doing it”.
Source: Daily Times
Date:9/4/2008

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