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Dr. Aafia declared fit to stand trial: US judge

Dr. Aafia declared fit to stand trial: US judge

 

NEW YORK – Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a US-trained Pakistani neuroscientist accused of trying to kill American soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan last year, is competent to stand trial, a federal judge ruled Wednesday as he rejected the evaluation of a defence expert who concluded she was mentally ill.

US District Judge Richard Berman based his 36-page ruling largely on the findings of three other experts who concluded that the woman was faking mental illness to avoid trial or improve the chance she would be returned to Pakistan.
Her trial is set for Oct. 19.

‘The Court finds that Dr Siddiqui is competent to stand trial by a preponderance of the evidence’, judge Berman in New York City Federal court said in a written order.

Siddiqui, 37, was captured a year ago in Afghanistan, and was brought to New York in early August to face a seven-count indictment. The most serious charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life behind bars.

Over the last year, psychiatric experts who have evaluated Ms. Siddiqui have said she reported dramatic hallucinations and delusions involving flying infants, dark angels, a dog in her cell and children visiting her.

One expert noted that the hallucinatory experiences ended abruptly after a psychologist found her incompetent for trial last year after a one-month evaluation. The psychologist later changed her opinion after a six-month study and a review of thousands of documents.

‘This is an instance where a defendant may have some mental health issues but may nevertheless be competent to stand trial’ , Berman wrote. Mental health experts testified earlier this month in a hearing that was interrupted several times when Ms. Siddiqui spoke out, saying she did not kill anybody. ‘I did not shoot anybody, and I did not fire at anybody’, she told the court while interrupting the proceedings.

At one point during a break, she looked towards prosecutors and said, ‘I want to make peace with the United States of America. I’m not an enemy. I never was’.

 

Full coverage here (NY Times) and here (The NATION Pakistan):

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