By Masood Haider
NEW YORK: Two of the three new lawyers engaged by Pakistani government to defend Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist accused of firing on US soldiers, will travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan to gather facts to bolster their case in the court.
The new team of lawyers – Charles Swift, Linda Moreno and Elaine Sharp – were approved by US Judge Richard Berman at a hearing in the US District Court in New York on Wednesday.
The case is scheduled to begin on Nov 2.
Although Dr Siddiqui had rejected the appointment of the team, Judge Berman felt interests of Dr Siddiqui were best served by a team of lawyers who would better plead her case in the US court.
According to Pakistani diplomats, Attorney Elaine Sharp will travel to Pakistan to meet with Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s family members and others who could shed light on Dr Siddiqui’s life.
Lawyer Charles Swift is expected to travel to Kabul where Dr Siddiqui allegedly fired upon US soldiers while she was in their custody in July 2008.
According to the Pakistan consulate here, Fakir Asif Hussain, a senior diplomat at the Pakistan Embassy, is coordinating efforts aimed at seeking her release.
The new defence team has already said that it is confident that the Pakistani neuroscientist had harmed no one and was innocent of the charges levelled against her.
Lawyer Linda Moreno, reading the statement on behalf of her colleagues said: “We look forward to representing Dr Siddiqui in her struggle for justice and restoring her to home in Pakistan where she belongs.
“We ask those who report this case and those fair Americans who will eventually sit in judgment of her, to remember that this is a criminal case, and that Dr Siddiqui begins her journey as an innocent person under the laws of our country.
“We are confident that the evidence in this case will show that Dr Siddiqui harmed no one. To the contrary this 90-pound mother of three was shot and wounded herself, the alleged circumstances of which are not supported by evidence. It is also important to note that Dr Siddiqui is not charged with any crimes of terrorism.”