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.