US postpones Aafia Siddiqui’s sentencing

US postpones Aafia Siddiqui’s sentencing
# 13 August 2010 03:57 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. The sentencing of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, accused and found guilty of attempted murder of US agents in Afghanistan in a controversial trial, has been postponed to next month, APA reports quoting Press TV.

Siddiqui, 37, who was detained by Afghan police on July 17, 2008, was held in custody based on allegations that she had documents containing recipes for chemical weapons and explosives in her handbag, reported.

The following day, a team of US military officers and FBI agents in Afghanistan began interrogating Siddiqui. American authorities have alleged that during cross-examination, she grabbed a rifle and began firing at an Army Captain, a claim fiercely denied by Siddiqui’s attorneys based on the argument that she is too small and weak to handle the heavy US automatic rifles.

The only person injured during the episode, however, was Siddiqui who was shot in the torso by one of US interrogators.

On February 3, a jury unanimously found Siddiqui guilty of attempted murder, armed assault and using and carrying a firearm.

Her attorneys argued that there was no physical evidence that Siddiqui had touched a weapon.

"I disagree with the jury’s verdict. In my opinion, it is wrong. There was no forensic evidence, and the witness testimony was divergent, to say the least. This is not a just and right verdict…And my opinion is that this was a verdict that was based on fear and not fact," Siddiqui’s defense attorney Elaine Whitfield Sharp told reporters shortly after the verdict was read on February 3.

Human rights organizations say Siddiqui was abducted in Pakistan along with her three children in 2003 and held captive for five years by the US and was interrogated and tortured while held in secret prisons.

"We think…she suffered while in secret prisons and tortured for those five years while she was missing. In addition, she’s been in solitary confinement for a year and a half while in US custody," Executive Director of the International Justice Network Tina Foster told Democracy Now on February 14.

"…The jury was told that she was brought to the United States to face charges because she opened fire on US soldiers," said Petra Bartosiewicz, an independent journalist who wrote about Aafia Siddiqui in the November 2009 edition of the Harper’s Magazine.

"But what they were not told was that she’d been missing for five years and that when she went missing in 2003, she was a suspected al-Qaeda operative. And she was never charged with that in this case," she added.

Saddiqui’s two youngest children, who were three months old and four years old when captured and taken into detention, are still missing.