Karachi: Aafia Movement Pakistan has expressed concern that she may be deprived of justice if her case was heard by the same judge who has already convicted her.
In a release here Wednesday, it said Aafia’s lawsuit against the United States government, which she filed Monday, alleges that she was deprived of her constitutional right to counsel when Judge Berman forced her to be represented by attorneys against her clearly expressed wishes.
It said that there was a clear conflict of interest between the Government of Pakistan and Dr. Aafia, due to the government’s role in her illegal abduction and the fact that it paid for her legal defence. This conflict was further exacerbated when Judge Berman had a private meeting with the then Ambassador of Pakistan in USA Haqqani while her trial was still ongoing.
It said neither Dr. Siddiqui nor her “lawyers” were present during the private meeting between Judge Berman and Ambassador Haqqani, and the contents of their conversation remain unknown. Ambassador Haqqani himself negotiated the contract with Dr. Siddiqui’s “lawyers,” and did not involve Dr. Siddiqui in the process.
During Dr. Siddiqui’s trial, Judge Berman welcomed Ambassador Haqqani to the courtroom and referenced the private meeting, but did not share with Dr. Siddiqui or anyone else what had been discussed in chambers.
The Aafia Movement expressed serious concerns about Dr. Siddiqui’s ability to receive justice if her lawsuit is heard by Judge Berman, based on his prior rulings and decisions during her trial, which resulted in severe prejudice against Dr. Siddiqui.
It said he ignored the fact that he had no jurisdiction to try her case as the alleged crime did not take place in USA and Aafia is NOT a US citizen. He further ignored the violations of the Vienna Convention when it comes to Aafia’s detention but uses it at other times. Judge Berman’s rulings resulted in most of the Pakistani media being excluded from watching the proceedings, which are supposed to be free and open to the public.
The release said Judge Berman also prohibited Dr. Siddiqui from testifying about the 2003 abduction of her and her three young children, as well as the subsequent five years of unimaginable torture and confinement in secret detention. Judge Berman had the power to grant Dr. Siddiqui’s clearly-expressed wishes to retain defence attorneys of her own choosing, yet forced her to be represented by lawyers hired and paid for by the Government of Pakistan – the very same entity responsible for her illegal kidnapping and years of abuse. He allowed witness testimonies that clearly contradicted each other .
The release claimed Judge Berman also required Dr. Siddiqui – a devout Muslim and innocent mother of three – to be subjected to humiliating strip searches and desecration of the Holy Quran before being brought to court each day to hear the testimony against her.
As if that weren’t enough, Judge Berman was solely responsible for using the “various Enhancement” to increase Aafia’s sentence to an outrageous 86 years imprisonment, even though she was never charged with any terrorism-related offenses, nor did she hurt anyone and all the evidence was in Aafia’s favour.
This decision shows a clear bias against Dr. Siddiqui based on her religion.
The Aafia Movement sincerely hopes that Judge Berman will act honourably and recuse himself from her case, so that she can, for the first time, have the opportunity to receive a fair and just proceeding in U.S. federal court. It requested the case be heard on facts not hate.