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Judge defers Aafia’s case decision till Dec 17

NEW YORK, Nov 19: The judge hearing the case of Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist charged with firing on US officials, deferred on Wednesday a decision on her competency to stand trial till Dec 17.

At a conference hearing, Federal Judge Richard Berman asked the defence lawyers and prosecutors to present their own findings on the mental status of Ms Siddiqui by Dec 17 before he could proceed with trial.

An evaluation performed by a federal prison doctor in Carswell, Texas, said that Ms Siddiqui was “not currently competent” to proceed as a result of her mental disease, which renders her unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her or to assist properly in her defence.

Both the defence and the prosecution expressed reservations about the Carswell prison doctor’s findings.

Our Washington’s correspondent adds: Pakistan’s Ambassador Hussain Haqqani has sent a letter to the US State Department, urging the US authorities to allow Aafia Siddiqui to return home.

The ambassador argued that since Ms Siddiqui had already been declared unfit to stand trial, there was no justification for keeping her in the United States. Last week, a court appointed American psychiatric declared her mentally unfit to stand trial.

The ambassador called for her release on humanitarian grounds and said she should be sent to her family for treatment and recuperation.
Source: Dawn
Date:11/20/2008

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