December 19, 2008
A US court has extended a probe into whether a Pakistani neuroscientist is mentally fit to stand trial on charges that she tried to murder US officers in Afghanistan.
Judge Richard Berman said the federal court in New York would meet again February 23 after psychiatrists for the prosecution and the defence have had time to evaluate Aafia Siddiqui’s state of mind.
Berman said that psychiatric evaluations should first decide “the issue of competence” and also make a “recommendation to the future cause of action.”
Siddiqui, a US-educated scientist whose family lives in Karachi, was deported in August from Afghanistan to New York and is currently being treated at a government psychiatric hospital in Texas.
Berman said that he believed Siddiqui, who was shot in the stomach during her allegedly failed murder attempt in Afghanistan, was in good hands. “She’s in a supportive environment.”
According to defence attorney Elizabeth Fink, Siddiqui, 36, is suffering hallucinations that feature her dead or missing children.
But Fink also said that “from what I see… she is in the best situation she can be.”
Prosecutors allege Siddiqui was first detained in July by Afghan police and that shortly after, while in custody, she grabbed a rifle and fired on visiting US officers.
Fink says that Siddiqui is not only innocent of those charges, but the victim of five years in secret US or Afghan custody — an experience responsible for her current mental illness.
There are still no reports as to where her children are.
They could be in prison for all we know.
Maybe they are being tortured or dead.
Where are her children?