Tag - Dr.Aafia Siddiqui Trial

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Aafia Trial: First to have Metal detectors and ID checks
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Aafia Siddiqui Trial Day 3: Evidence Not Collected In Timely Fashion
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Aafia Siddiqui Says She Is Not Anti-Semetic
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Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Says Her Children Were Tortured
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Vigil for Fahad Hashmi and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in New York
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No Exculpatory Evidence Against Aafia Siddiqui

Aafia Trial: First to have Metal detectors and ID checks

As the third day of testimony in the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui came to a close, after the jury left the room defense Attorney Charles Swift objected to the use of metal detectors and the demand for ID’s to enter the courtroom.

In his objection Swift said that to his knowledge this has never happened before in a courtroom in America and that it is “prejudicial to the jury” giving them the impression that they should have something to fear from her public supporters. Swift also complained that it interferes with her right to a free and fair trial open to the public.

Yesterday, only members of the public were asked to go through the metal detectors positioned directly in front of the courtroom. However, today everyone, including jurors, had to go through the process.

Many members of the public also objected to their names being entered on a written log. Some promised that they would be filing a complaint with the ACLU. “It’s intimidating”, said a woman who came to support Dr. Siddiqui. “I wonder why they’re asking for it and what they’ll do with it later”.

All persons entering the building must go through metal detectors as they enter so it is unclear what security purpose a second detector serves. In response to the objection Judge Richard Berman said that he was “not aware that it was happening” and that he would “look into it”.

Aafia Siddiqui Trial Day 3: Evidence Not Collected In Timely Fashion

On the third day of testimony in the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman charged with attempted murder of U.S. soldiers, FBI forensic analysts conceded that evidence from the crime scene in Ghazni, Afghanistan was not properly preserved or timely collected.

When cross examining FBI Forensic expert, Aafia Siddiqui’s defense attorney established that evidence arrived for analysis approximately fifteen days after she was shot in Afghanistan.

FBI’s fingerprinting expert had earlier testified that he did not find any finger prints on the M4 rifle, but that in his 6 year experience in the field there is only a 10% chance of obtaining fingerprints from a firearm due to its “non-porous” surface.

When asked how many guns he has analyzed, FBI expert conceded that his experience was limited around 10 to 20 weapons that he has analyzed. When asked why did he not take pictures of areas where finger prints could have been visible, FBI expert said it was of ‘no value.’

Another FBI agent who was tasked to collect evidence told government’s attorney that he left behind parts of M4 rifle because there was a shortage of equipment. He also said that he went back to the crime scene with the Chief Warrant Officer who is suspected of shooting Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in the belly.

Today even the jurors and journalists had to go through the metal detector. A person present at the hearing suggested that metal detectors are creating an impression as if “Aafia Siddiqui is very dangerous or the people who are coming to support her are potential threat.”

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui sat next to her lawyers and did not say a word. Her brother sat four benches behind her.

Defense attornies are expected to cross examine FBI Agent who collected the evidence after lunch break.

Aafia Siddiqui Says She Is Not Anti-Semetic

As the high profile trial of Dr.Aafia Siddqui began in New York the courtroom was filled beyond capacity with a growing number of supporters, journalist, and legal observers. It was so crowded that 2 overflow rooms had to be established.

Also sitting amongst the crowd in support of Siddiqui was one of the most famous anti-war activist in the United States, Cindy Sheehan.

Shortly after Dr. Siddiqui entered the court room she engaged in a series of outbursts reflecting her unstable mental condition: “the president needs to talk to me” she shouted, “all I get is negativity” , “They accuse me of being anti-semetic” I am not anti-semetic, anti any religion or any race, “No!” she proclaimed, seemingly in response to recent media reports about her.

Although Siddiqui requested that she be allowed to remain in her prison cell, Judge Richard Berman ruled that Siddiqui should remain at the proceedings to preserve her constitutional right to be present.

The defense once again advised the court that their clients real objection was to the humiliating strip searches she must undergo.

The prosecution began their opening remarks warning the jury that the real world is not neat and orderly and that they would have to put together bits and pieces of evidence along the prosecution’s “commons sense” narrative, namely that Dr. Siddiqui a short, less then 100lb woman picked up a M4 rifle and shot at U.S soldiers, in a 300 sq ft room in the presence of more than 10 mostly armed men.

Although the charges in this case are limited to this alleged incident and the defense promised a very strong rebuttal, describing the lack of any forensic evidence indicating that an M4 was ever shot, some documents are being allowed into evidence by Judge Berman that may prove prejudicial.

These documents alleged to have been in Dr. Sidiqquis possession included plans to conduct terrorist attacks against Americans, specifically in New York.

Despite the fact, that the government has made it clear that they are not charging Siddiqui with any affiliation to any terrorist organization, the evidence they have submitted signifys exactly that.

It will be a difficult obstacle for the defense to overcome especially in a city where every resident is keenly aware of what it means to live in such a target zone.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Says Her Children Were Tortured

Judge Richard Berman ordered Dr. Aafia Siddqui out of the courtroom on the first day of her trial after her shocking outburst proclaiming that she was held in a secret prison and her children were tortured.

The outburst was in response to the testimony of the first prosecution witness, Robert Lee Snyder, a Captain in the U.S. army in the intelligence division, who was asked to read out loud a document, which the prosecution alleges, was handwritten by the defendant and found in her possession.

The document describes mass casualties in United States and specifically talks about landmarks in New York City, including the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Brooklyn Bridge amongst other targets. It also describes plans to explode a dirty bomb with radioactive material along with other types of attacks.

After hearing the document read out loud Dr. Siddiqui shouted out “It’s not true, I was told to copy the magazine, If you were  held in a secret prison, and your children were tortured, …”at which point she was taken out of the courtroom. Her outburst seemed to imply that the handwritten documents, which the judge is allowing into evidence despite objections by the defense, are actually a copy of a magazine article, which she was told to copy.

The prosecution has asked that she no longer be allowed in the room and that her comment be stricken from the record. Though Dr. Siddiqui has had several courtroom outbursts this is the first in front of the jury, who will probably never hear from her directly again.

When she was first brought into the courtroom, she again denied that her counsels represent her and said that she did not want to be here; “All I get is negativity. They accuse me of being anti-Semitic. I am not against anyone or any religion” Her defense stated in the court that her objection to being in the courthouse is because of the strip searches that she is subjected to every time she enters.

In their opening remarks the prosecution asked the jury to use their common sense when looking at the evidence or lack of evidence. They advised the jury that the evidence is not neat or in a clear order, due to what they described as the “chaos” of the incident. Thus they asked the jury to piece meal the evidence along the narrative they will present. They plan to present 6 eye witnesses who will testify to that narrative.

The defense on the other hand made the same appeal to use “common sense” when considering the fact that there is no forensic evidence indicating that Dr. Siddiqui ever touched or fired the M4 rifle, the alleged weapon.

Which common sense narrative the jury believes will decide Dr. Siddiqui’s fate. However, her support amongst grass roots organizations in the U.S. is rapidly growing. In the over crowded courtroom famous anti-war activist, Cindy Sheehan, sat in support of the defense along with members of “World Can’t Wait”, “Theater Against War”, and several other community groups. In fact the courtroom was so crowded the court had to arranged for 2 overflow rooms. Her family expressed gratitude for the diversity of support she is beginning to get from Americans.

No Exculpatory Evidence Against Aafia Siddiqui

Two FBI experts who testified last week in high profile trial of Dr.Aafia Siddqui in New York conceded that there were no finger prints on the M4 rifle, and it is not certain that the rifle was even fired.

Aafia Siddiqui is accused of snatching the Chief Warrant Officer’s M4 Assault Rifle and firing it at him and other United States officers and employees in Ghazni, Afghanistan on July 18, 2008.

These alleged actions are the key of the government’s case against Dr. Siddiqui
for attempted murder and assault.

If Dr. Siddiqui did not pick up the M4 assault rifle and did not point and shoot it at the Americans in the room at the headquarters of the Afghan National Police (ANP) on July 18, 2009, then she is actually innocent of the charges or, at the very least, there is reasonable doubt that Dr. Siddiqui committed any of the crimes with which she is charged.

We learned last week that Dr. Siddiqui’s fingerprints were not on the M4 rifle that she is alleged to have grabbed and fired at the warrant officer and others.

To counter the absence of fingerprint, which is mostly used as “the powerful forensic, exculpatory fact” the Government presented FBI expert D.J. Fife to explain that it is not uncommon to find no finger prints.

During his testimony Mr. Fife testified that no latent fingerprints were recovered from
the M-4 rifle that Dr. Siddiqui allegedly grabbed from the Chief Warrant Officer and explained the general difficulties inherent in obtaining fingerprints from firearms. He also testified that fingerprints are recovered from firearms approximately less than ten percent of the time.

FBI expert Fife testified about various factors that affect the ability to obtain fingerprints from firearms, including atmospheric conditions, environmental conditions, perspiration, and the surfaces of firearms.

He also testified about various physical features of individuals that can affect the ability of a fingerprint examiner to obtain fingerprints of value.

It was his position that Dr. Siddiqui has very small hands and fingers, which negatively affect the ability to obtain fingerprints of value from items with which she has been in contact.

During cross examination when defense attorney Ms. Sharp asked Mr. Fife if he has ever tested Dr. Siddiqui’s palm, he replied in negative which led to next logical question as to how he know if he she has small hands. FBI agent Fife was agreed that many his assertions were not ‘scientific’.

Defense attorney Sharp also established that evidence arrived for analysis approximately twenty days after she was shot in Afghanistan.
Citing a study (Barnum Study) which was conducted nearly fifteen years FBI’s expert had earlier testified that there is only a 10% chance of obtaining fingerprints from a firearm due to its “non-porous” surface.

Ms. Sharp questioned the testimony of D.J. Fife based on his experience and generally accepted principles in his forensic field – that latent fingerprints are recovered from firearms only about ten percent of the time. She also suggested that Fife’s opinion is not scientifically reliable, and, in the alternative, that his opinion is more unfairly prejudicial than probative “in that it is offered in an attempt to sway the jurors in favor of the Government’s case.”

When asked how many guns he has analyzed, FBI expert conceded that his experience was limited around 10 to 20 weapons that he has analyzed. When asked why did he not take pictures of areas where finger prints could have been visible, FBI expert said it was of ‘no value.’

Fife testified that he conducted a series of tests on the M-4 rifle, and that after each step he inspected the rifle for identifiable latent fingerprints. Based on that examination, Fife concluded that no latent prints of value – belonging to Dr. Siddiqui or anyone else — could be identified on the M-4 rifle.

Second key FBI expert Carlo Rosati Carlo Rosati, who testified on the fourth day of the high trial of Dr. Aafia Siddqui conceded that he cannot say with certainty that any shots were fired from the M4 rifle.

Rosati’s testimony included descriptions of his observations and his knowledge of firearms, bullet trajectories, and crime scene analyses.

The Prosecution tried to establish Rosati as an expert based on his vast personal experience in his fields, particularly the behavior of bullets when fired in various circumstances and the need to preserve crime scenes for proper analysis and testing.

Rosati testified that the firearms he examined in this case — the 9-mm pistol that the Chief Warrant Officer used to shoot the defendant and the M-4 rifle that the defendant allegedly used to attempt to kill U.S. officers — were operable and functioning at the time of testing.

He said that based on his examination, one 9-mm bullet and two 9-mm cartridge cases recovered at the crime scene were fired from the Chief Warrant Officer’s 9-mm pistol. He also testified that he examined a curtain obtained from the crime scene for the presence of gunshot residue, but none was found.

He then testified regarding various scenarios that can occur when a bullet fired from an M-4 rifle strikes a solid surface. He said that bullets from an M-4 rifle travels at a very high rate of speed, and can explode or fragment upon impacting hard surfaces, or can penetrate other surfaces.

Based on the texture and content of the debris that he examined in this case, he testified that a bullet fired from an M-4 rifle into a wall comprised of this material might shatter or fragment.

However, upon cross examination he conceded key element of the bullet – a steel tip that penetrates the target never fragments and should have remained intact.

During cross examination Defense Attorney Charles Swift asked the FBI expert if he was certain that the one 9-mm bullet and two 9-mm cartridge cases recovered at the crime scene were fired from the Chief Warrant Officer’s 9-mm pistol. FBI expert Rosati categorically said, “Yes”.

When asked if he is certain an M-4 was ever shot at the crime scene, the FBI expert responded in negative.

The FBI expert also agreed that there was no evidence that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui fired an M4 rifle. He agreed that if a bullet fired from M4 rifle penetrated the wall, as alleged by the government, it would have been found. He said he had examined the debris of the wall and did not find any evidence that would lead him to believe that a bullet penetrated the wall.

Rosati also agreed with the defense attorney that no gun shot residue was found on the curtain, which was allegedly within six inches of the M4 when it was fired.

But there is a whole slew of exculpatory evidence in this case: Dr. Siddiqui’s DNA was not found on the M4 rifle; no bullets, casing or shrapnel of any kind from the M4 rifle were found in the quite small enclosed space where Dr. Siddiqui was alleged to have fired this firearm; in fact, there is no indication that investigators even attempted to test the M4 rifle at issue to see if it has been fired at the time of the incident at or around July 18, 2008.

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