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Aafia unfit to stand trial, says US judge

NEW YORK, Nov 17: Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani woman suspected of links to Al Qaeda and charged with trying to kill American interrogators in Afghanistan, is mentally unfit to stand trial, according to her psychiatric evaluation.

Aafia Siddiqui, 36, is “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,” US District Judge Richard Berman said on Monday while reporting the results of the evaluation.

Berman ordered a hearing on Wednesday to discuss how to proceed with Aafia’s case, including the possible use of medication to treat her.

Prosecutors say Ms Siddiqui, a US-trained neuroscientist, while detained for questioning in Afghanistan, grabbed a US warrant officer’s rifle and fired it at the interrogation team, which included two FBI agents. The warrant officer then shot her with his pistol.

Her arraignment was delayed after Ms Siddiqui refused to submit to a strip search or cooperate with prison doctors. Defence lawyers and prosecutors both argued the frail-looking woman should undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Human rights groups had declared Ms Siddiqui missing for five years before the incident in July, when she was arrested outside the governor’s office in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province.

Her lawyers have said she may be a victim of torture and believe she was kidnapped with her children in March 2003 in Karachi and secretly held in custody for the past five years by either Pakistani or US authorities
Source: Dawn