Aafia Siddiqui Trial: Inconsistent Statements, No Physical Evidence
Posted on 27 January 2010 by Ibrahim Sajid Malick
The prosecution in the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Tuesday presented their final witness who again alleged that she grabbed the Chief Warrant Officer’s M-4 rifle, and fired at the US officials at the Afghan National Police headquarters on July 18th, 2008.
During the past six days of the trial in the Southern District of New York the government has tried to make a case on seven counts, based on alleged events that occurred at an Afghan National Police Compound in Ghazni, Afghanistan on July 17 and 18, 2008.
The charges stem from Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s arrest on July 17, 2008 by the ANP in Ghazni, Afghanistan.
Government witnesses testified that the ANP recovered a number of items from Dr. Aafia Siddiqui certain of which were provided to the United States military including a number of handwritten and pre-printed documents, chemical compound that tested positive for sodium cyanide, and a computer thumb drive which contained various electronic documents.
Government witnesses have testified that after initial review of these items, the United States military contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist in interviewing Dr. Siddiqui.
Government witnesses also testified that on July 18th 2008 a team of United States military personnel and two FBI agents traveled to the ANP headquarters to with the intention of interviewing Dr. Siddiqui.
Every government witness testified that the US team was directed to a second floor room of the ANP Headquarters in Ghazni. However all the eyewitnesses gave conflicting accounts as to exactly what happened on key issues, such as who was seated where; where the M4 rifle was placed, and the sequence of events before during and after the shooting.
Although the prosecution has argued that its very common for eyewitnesses to recall events differently, a majority of the Governments witnesses also gave testimony that conflicted with their own sworn statements given just days after the incident to FBI agents.
During cross examination Special Agent Eric Negron said a thought had crossed his mind that this could had been a set-up by the ANP. But, he did not mentioned this critical thought in anyone of his subsequent statements – not in July, August or December.
Just like the US Warrant Officer who shot Dr. Siddiqui, FBI Special Agent Negron was also not able to explain statements he gave earlier regarding the incident which significantly differed from his testimony at trial.
The Prosecution also presented their 2nd Afghan Eyewittness, a 25 year old interpreter who works for the U.S. Military through a private contractor. He had been working for the army since he was 20 years old and was so influenced by his work for the military that he could not refrain from using a variety of military jargon, unknown to most lay people. When he wanted to answer no, he said “negative”. When he wanted to answer, yes he said “Roger”.
In his testimony the “terp” (interpreter) as he refers to himself, placed the M4 rifle and Chief Warrant Officer in a different location from where the Officer himself had testified to. Moreover, when he was asked if he heard Siddiqui say “I want to kill Americans”, “Allah Akbar”, or “May the blood of…”, as she allegedly pointed the rifle he confidently said “No”.
A major inconsistency was noted in Sgt. Williams testimony who clearly remembered female Medic, Rene Card to be standing outside just steps behind him – not in the room as she had earlier testified. In her testimony Medic Card had contradicted prior witnesses who had placed the M4 rifle and relevant witnesses at differing locations at the scene.
Sgt. Cook who stood outside the ANP compound said he heard gun shots from the room on the second floor. He did not see Dr. Siddiqui with the gun or shooting a M4 rifle. He said he went to get the stretcher – but Dr. Siddiqui was already brought outside. This contradicts Medic Card who had testified she brought the stretcher in the room and had placed Dr. Siddiqui on the stretcher in the room.
Not two Government witnesses in past six days have provided a consistent account of the shooting incident. No physical evidence was provided to substantiate Dr. Siddiqui shot the rifle.
Cageprisoners Trial Memo Day 6 Tuesday
January 26, 2009
cageprisoners dot com
Defense attorneys for Siddiqui asked the judge today that she be prohibited from taking the stand in her own defense, citing her mental instability. In recent weeks Siddiqui has said alternately that she is boycotting the trial and that she is being prevented from being allowed to testify. During court proceedings today Siddiqui once again signaled to the spectator gallery that she does not recognize her legal team, two of whom are court appointed attorneys and three of whom have been retained on her behalf by the government of Pakistan. Waving her hands towards the attorneys and shaking her head, she then essentially ejected herself from the proceedings, saying, "That's it, I'm going to boycott. I'm not going to come again. Bye everybody." She was escorted out by U.S. Marshals.
Since the beginning of the trial last week Siddiqui has made several outburst in the courtroom, saying, among other things, that she "can bring peace with Afghanistan and the Taliban in one day, God willing." The defense team's request came in open court but not in the presence of the jurors. In a letter submitted earlier today to Judge Berman, the attorneys argued that Siddiqui "suffers from diminished capacity," and that if she is permitted to "continue her irrational and bewildering insistence that she has the power to influence the Taliban, she will invite jurors to infer that she has terrorist associations."
Jurors heard testimony from FBI Special Agent Eric Negron, who flew to Ghazni on July 18, 2008, along with Special Agent John Jefferson and Staff Sergeant Lamont Williams. Negron recounted how he and Jefferson were initially told by the Afghans that they would not be permitted to interview Siddiqui, and that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was personally enroute to Ghazni "to attend to the matter." Negron said he called his supervising agent who told Negron to try to interview Siddiqui anyway, and to fingerprint her and obtain hair and DNA samples. It was during their second attempt to interview Siddiqui that the team went to the Afghan National Police headquarters in Ghazni where they encountered her. Negron testified that within seconds after the U.S. team entered the room where Siddiqui was being held, he saw the warrant officer's rifle raised near the edge of the curtain that divided the room. He testified he did not see Siddiqui's face from behind the curtain, but only the rifle, held "by two hands sticking from behind the curtain into the room. One hand was on the barrel and the other hand on the trigger." Negron said that after Siddiqui was shot by the warrant officer he helped restrain her, but she fought back. "I had to strike her several times with a closed fist across the face," he said. After she was subdued Siddiqui "either fainted or faked that she had fainted," and was handcuffed.
Once outside the Afghan National Police headquarters, Negron said the Americans encountered what he estimated were 50-70 armed Afghans in aggressive postures. He noticed one Afghan walking nearby with a handgun and told his interpreter to tell the man "to holster his weapon or I will kill him." The man turned and laughed, recalled Negron, but obeyed the order.
Under cross examination by defense attorney Linda Moreno, Negron was asked why he didn't do a crime scene investigation in the room where the shooting occurred. Negron said he didn't see the room as a crime scene and that the warrant officer "fired back in the defense of all in the room. At the time I saw it as a firefight with an enemy combatant."
Negron also spoke of how he felt the Americans might have been "set up" by the Afghans because they had been caught by surprise when Siddiqui emerged from behind the curtain. "We were told that the woman was in Afghan National Police custody, not free to roam around as she did into that room." Moreno questioned why Negron did not share this belief with the FBI agents who later interviewed him about the incident. Negron did not have an answer.
Jurors also heard from Sergeant Kenneth Cook, who was part of the U.S. team at the Afghan National Police Station. Cook recalled that when they arrived at the compound they encountered some 150-200 armed Afghans. "The were all pretty excited," said Cook. "They were huddled in little groups, talking amongst themselves and pointing at us." Cook, who was stationed outside the police station while the rest of the team went in to locate Siddiqui, said he told one of the other members of the team that "something bad is going to happen." Just after that he heard shots from the second floor.
Two final eyewitnesses to the shooting also testified. Ahmad Jawidami, a 25-year-old Afghan interpreter known by colleagues as "Dave," said he ran from the room as soon as he heard the first shot fired. Staff Sergeant Lamont Williams testified that he was posted outside the door to the room where the shooting took place. On cross examination by defense attorney Charles Swift, Williams said that just after he heard shots fired a number of individuals in the room came running out. But Williams said he did not recall that the U.S. Army medic, Dawn Card, was among them. Williams' testimony was in sharp contrast to Card's own testimony in court yesterday, when she said she was present in the room but ran out as soon as the shooting started. Williams, who stood at the only exit to the room, said he did not remember seeing Card enter the room before the incident or exit after.
"You're sure of that?" asked Swift.
"Yeah," said Williams.
On further questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher LaVigne, Williams was firm in his recollection. "No, she wasn't in the room," he said. "I was right outside the door."
The government is expected to call its final witnesses tomorrow morning, after which the defense will present its case. Attorneys for Siddiqui told Judge Richard Berman today they anticipate calling two witnesses and will possibly show a videotaped deposition taken in Afghanistan.
Testimony continues Wednesday, Jan 27, with Day 7, USA v Siddiqui.
See more ongoing coverage at the site of ibrahimsajidmalick dot com