US court finds Pakistani woman 'guilty of FBI attack'

A New York court said that Pakistani woman guilty of shooting at her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan.

US court finds Pakistani woman 'guilty of FBI attack'

A New York court said that Pakistani woman "guilty" on Wednesday of shooting at her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan.

Aafia Siddiqui, 37, is accused of grabbing a US warrant officer's M-4 rifle in a police station in Ghazni, Afghanistan in July 2008 and firing two shots at FBI agents and military personnel when being interrogated for her alleged possession of documents detailing a 'terrorist' plan.

A family lawyer immediately announced an appeal, citing "prejudice and bias."

Siddiqui's defense harshly criticised that the government's version of events, saying there was no forensic evidence to support it.

Siddiqui's defense lawyer, Linda Moreno, said there was no evidence the rifle had ever been fired, since no bullets, shell casings or bullet debris were recovered and no bullet holes detected.

None of the U.S. agents or personnel were injured but Siddiqui was shot, Reuters said.

The 12-member jury deliberated for two days before reaching a unanimous verdict on seven counts, including attempted murder and assault. Although guilty on two attempted murder counts, the jury said she did not commit the crime with premeditation.

She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Although she was not charged with terrorism, prosecutors described her as a would-be terrorist who had also plotted to bomb New York.

Her lawyers tried to prove she was insane, but a judge ruled her fit to stand trial.

Siddiqui, a tiny, frail woman dressed in a beige tunic and white headscarf covering her mouth and forehead, showed no emotion as the jury pronounced its verdict.

After being found guilty, she responded in similar fashion, saying: "This is a verdict coming from Israel, not America. Your anger should be directed where it belongs. I can testify to this and I have proof."

Throughout the two week trial, Siddiqui interrupted witness testimony repeatedly and was removed from the courtroom.

Siddiqui was arrested by Afghan police, who said she was carrying containers of chemicals and notes referring to mass-casualty attacks and New York landmarks.

Prosecutors said she picked up a rifle in the police station where she was being held and opened fire on US servicemen and FBI representatives. She missed and was herself shot by one of the US soldiers.

Defense lawyers argued there was no physical evidence, such as finger prints or gunpowder traces, to show Siddiqui even grabbed the rifle, let alone opened fire.

Human rights groups have long speculated that Siddiqui may have been secretly imprisoned and tortured at the US base in Bagram, Afghanistan, during the five years prior to the 2008 incident.

Defense lawyer also said the testimony of the government's six eye-witnesses contradicted one another on Siddiqui's location in the 300-square-foot (28 sqm) room, the number of bullets fired and who was present.

"The government has cast Aafia Siddiqui as some sort of Rambo type," Moreno said. "Let's leave behind the fear and talk about what the evidence tells us."

Agencies

Last Mod: 04 Şubat 2010, 10:48
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