US District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan said that Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence in a prison medical center in Texas, had ‘clearly and unequivocally’ stated her intent to end the appeal.
The Judge ordered the case closed and said that, even if the appeal had continued, he likely would have ruled against her. Siddiqui was represented at trial by an able team of five lawyers, Berman wrote. He declined to hold a hearing to question her further. In May, a new lawyer filed the appeal on Siddiqui’s behalf, but in July Siddiqui wrote a letter to Berman saying she had no faith in the US legal system and refused to participate in it.
A jury convicted Siddiqui in 2010 of attempting to shoot and kill a group of FBI agents, US soldiers and interpreters who were about to interrogate her in Ghazni, Afghanistan, for alleged links to al Qaeda.
On Nov 5, 2012, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York had upheld the conviction and 86-year prison sentence of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, 40, for shooting at FBI agents and soldiers after her arrest in Afghanistan.
The Court said a lower court judge had not erred in allowing Aafia Siddiqui to testify in her own defence at trial and in allowing certain evidence against her.
Siddiqui was sentenced by US District Judge Richard Berman in September 2010. She was convicted by a New York federal jury of attempted murder, armed assault and other charges.
On Nov 19, 2008, US District Judge Richard Berman deferred a decision on her competency to stand trial till Dec 17. At a conference hearing, the Federal Judge asked the defence lawyers and prosecutors to present their own findings on the mental status of Ms Siddiqui by Dec 17 before he could proceed with trial. An evaluation performed by a federal prison doctor in Carswell, Texas, said that Ms Siddiqui was “not currently competent” to proceed as a result of her mental disease, which renders her unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her or to assist properly in her defence.
Both the defence and the prosecution expressed reservations about the Carswell prison doctor’s findings. They had both argued earlier that the frail-looking woman should undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Earlier, on Nov 17, 2008, US District Judge Richard Berman while reporting the results of the evaluation that Dr Aafia Siddiqui is mentally unfit to stand trial, according to her psychiatric evaluation, had adjourned the hearing to Nov 19 to discuss how to proceed with Aafia’s case, including the possible use of medication to treat her.. He said that Aafia is “not currently competent to proceed as a result of her mental disease, which renders her unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her.
Her arraignment was delayed after Ms Siddiqui refused to submit to a strip search or cooperate with prison doctors.
It is claimed that she was arrested in July 2008 by Afghan police, who said she was carrying 900 grams of sodium cyanide and crumpled notes referring to mass casualty attacks and New York landmarks; her family denies this claim.
The day after her arrest, she grabbed an M-4 rifle in her interrogation room and started shooting while yelling “death to America,” the trial jury heard.
No US agents or soldiers were hit, but Siddiqui was shot and wounded in response, according to US prosecutors.
Siddiqui’s defense lawyers, three of whom were paid by the Pakistani government, argued that their client had shot at the US officials in a panic and said the crime lacked any connection to terrorism.
On appeal, her attorneys challenged her conviction and sentence on many grounds. They said the judge improperly allowed jurors to consider the crumpled notes, and that the judge should never have allowed Siddiqui to decide whether to take the stand.
The district court went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that Siddiqui understood the implications of testifying and had the capacity to testify.
Dawn Cardi is one of Siddiqui’s attorney.
The appeals court also sided with Berman in finding that Siddiqui had likely premeditated the attack, and that terrorism sentencing requirements were applicable because of her willingness to harm Americans.
The severity of her sentence raises yet another question in a case already riddled with them: what is Siddiqui really being held accountable for? Is life imprisonment justified for firing at a handful of FBI agents and soldiers, none of whom were killed or injured? These questions will only add to the air of murkiness that still surrounds the case.
The circumstances of her arrest and the nature of her crimes and the conduct of her trial remain problematic.
Where was Siddiqui between 2003 and 2008? Was she in Pakistani or American custody? If so, is the story of her arrest in 2008 real?
If she wanted to carry out a terrorist attack against America, and possessed plans to do so when captured, why was she only charged with the crime of firing a gun at American officials after her arrest?
The problem with all this uncertainty is that it creates the impression that US authorities are hiding something, which raises doubts about the fairness of Siddiqui’s custody and trial.
Earlier, on February 10, 2012, the court-appointed attorneys (who are paid by the US government, and Aafia has repeatedly attempted to fire), argued before a US Court of Appeals on behalf of Aafia Siddiqui, although against her will.
This mockery of justice is simply yet another example of how Aafia’s conviction of a crime she did not commit is virtually guaranteed in the US justice system. Meanwhile, US agents who have perpetrated crimes against her, including kidnapping, torture, assault, and false imprisonment, have not been called to account.
So-called “high-profile” American criminal defense attorneys convinced the government of Pakistan to pay them millions of dollars, and then refused to resign when Aafia did not accept them. Neither did the Pakistani Government intervene.
There can no longer be any doubt that Aafia will never receive justice in the US legal system.