Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day NINE: Prosecution’s move to undercut Aafia’s testimony fails Jan 30 2010 feed

NEW YORK, Jan 30 (APP): A prosecution attempt on Friday to rebut Aafia Siddiqui’s spirited testimony denying attempted murder and assault charges appeared to have collapsed as the exercise left two of three government witnesses fumbling under sharp cross-examination.

Deposition by the third witness—a female FBI agent—was continuing when the Manhattan federal court recessed for the weekend to meet again on Monday when the trial of American-educated Pakistani neuroscientist will resume. Ms. Siddiqui is accused of grabbing a M-4 rifle and firing at U.S. soldiers and FBI agents who had gone to a police station in Ghazni, a day after her arrest in that Afghan city. No one was hit in the (alleged) incident, but Ms. Siddqui was shot in the stomach by a US soldier.

Despite significant setbacks at the hands of defence lawyers, the prosecution is vigorously pursing it's case against the defendant. On Friday, the prosecution brought in a gun instructor from Boston. The move followed a statement by Ms. Siddiqui on Thursday that she does not know anything about firearms and has not taken a target-shooting course. Gary Woodworth of the Braintree Rifle and Pistol Club in Massachusetts testified that Ms. Siddiqui took a 12-hour basic pistol course in early 90s.

But he appeared a bit uncomfortable when Aafia’s defence team asked him how could he remember one of hundreds of students from nearly 2O years ago. He insisted he was good with faces. “You have no records of this documents at all to corroborate your memory?” defence lawyer, Dawn Cardi, asked. “Correct,” Woodworth said. Under questioning, he admitted that an FBI agent recently showed him Ms. Siddiqui’s picture, with her name on it. Ms. Siddiqui was not in the courtroom on Friday - she chose to watch on closed-circuit television in a holding cell. Also testifying was‘FBI Special Agent Bruce Kamerman, who said Ms. Siddiqui told him in July 2008 that she picked up the assault rifle “because she wanted to scare the men so she could escape.” Kamerman, who interrogated Ms. Siddiqui when she was taken to the Bagram Air Base near Kabul for surgery, said he informed his superiors of her statement.

But he look embarrassed when Defence lawyer Elaine Sharp produced his hand-written notes in which there was no reference to her picking up the gun. Ms. Siddiqui, who was recovering from her wounds, had complained about Kamerman’s behaviour in the course of her testimony. And Ms. Sharp succeeded in extracting admission from him, including that she was kept tied to her bed and he would not (allow) her to close the bathroom door when she was using it.

Closing statements (are expected to) be made by the prosecution and defence lawyers on Monday when the jury will go into deliberations to prepare its verdict.

No comments: