Monday, February 1, 2010

Dr. Aafia’s trial hits closing arguments

By Masood Haider

Tuesday, 02 Feb, 2010 | 07:13 AM PST |

NEW YORK: Pakistan scientist Aafia Siddiqui’s lawyers concluded their arguments before a Manhattan court on Monday, insisting that there’s no physical evidence that their client had tried to kill American soldiers and FBI agents.

The trial of Dr Aafia, charged with shooting at her US interrogators in Afghanistan, moved into the final stage. As defence and prosecution lawyers delivered their closing arguments, the 16-member jury went into deliberations to reach a verdict. Sources said the verdict could come early next week.

Dr Aafia, who received graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University in biology and neuroscience while living in the US between 1991 and June 2002, wasn’t in the courtroom as closing statements were made.

Highlighting contradictions in the accounts by prosecution witnesses, Dr Aafia’s lawyer Linda Moreno said there’s no physical evidence that her client handled the rifle or fired it.

In her closing statement, Ms Moreno said the soldiers and the FBI agents in the room contradicted each other in their testimony and their own statements given to the FBI following the incident.

The defence lawyer also said there were no M-4 bullets, no bullet debris from the M-4 rifle and no bullet holes from the rifle in the room.

“The indisputable fact is there is no physical evidence that an M-4 rifle was touched by Dr Aafia or fired by her,” Ms Moreno said.

She described the 300-square foot room in a court in Ghazni, where the alleged shooting took place as a “sort of a Bermuda Triangle of a room” if you believe the government’s theory in the case.

“According to the government, the laws of science don’t exist in that small room in Ghazni, Afghanistan,” Ms Moreno said. “The laws of physics don’t apply.”

She said the “science” supported Dr Aafia’s testimony that she didn’t touch the weapon or fire it. She pointed out that there were no fingerprints on the rifle, no bullet holes in the wall and no residue on the curtains. No bullet projectiles were found either.

The prosecution lawyers, however, argued that Dr Aafia saw an opportunity to kill Americans and took it when she grabbed a US Army soldier’s rifle in July 2008 and tried to shoot a group of soldiers and FBI agents at an Afghan police compound.

In his closing statement, Assistant US Attorney Christopher La Vigne said Dr Aafia had been arrested by Afghan police in July 2008 with documents that “were a roadmap to destruction” and included references to a “mass casualty attack” in the US.

When she saw an opportunity, she grabbed an M-4 assault rifle belonging to a US soldier who was part of a team that had travelled to Ghazni, to interview her about the documents and “tried to kill every person in that room,” Mr La Vigne said.


Copyright © 2010 - Dawn Media Group

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