By Ibrahim Sajid Malick
In a taped video deposition presented by defense on Friday, Bashir, an Afghan police officer testified that he saw an American officer walk behind the curtain just before he heard gun shots, and that he never saw Dr. Siddiqui pick up a gun. Bashir was the last defense witness.
Earlier in the day Judge Richard Berman allowed prosecution to produce additional witnesses to rebut claims made by the defense witnesses and experts. With lack of physical evidence and burden of proof – the Government has to demonstrate with mathematical certitude that Dr. Siddiqui grabbed the Chief Warrant Officer’s M4 Assault Rifle and fired at United States officers and employees in Ghazni, Afghanistan on July 18, 2008.
A point of possible contention was raised Friday when Bashir testified there were two shell casing found in the room. Government has produced only one .9mm shell casing as evidence during the trial. The prosecution offered rebuttal witnesses, intended to respond to the evidence presented by the defense. First, the prosecution called a firing range owner, Gary Woodworth, who testified that he remembered Dr. Siddiqui coming to the shooting range 19 years ago.
However under cross examination, Mr. Woodworth also admitted that there were no records of Dr. Siddiqui ever having visited the shooting range, and that even if she had, it could have been as part of her physical education requirements at MIT. Mr. Woodworth also acknowledged being a member of the National Rifle Association and having very close relationships with law enforcement officers. He also admitted that the course he alleged she came for is a very basic training pistol course.
When asked by a defense attorney if he remembered the student he taught before Aafia he said, “no”; if he remembered the student he taught after Aafia, he said “no”. The prosecution then called FBI Special Agent Bruce Kammerman, who testified that while recuperating at Bagram Airbase hospital, Dr. Siddiqui had told him that she had picked up the gun because she wanted to scare people in order to ease her escape. However, on cross-examination, Agent Kammerman admitted that his original handwritten notes about the conversation did not mention anything about “picking up” the gun, but only Dr. Siddiqui’s desire to escape, and that the reference to the gun was added only in the final typed report.
Kammerman testified that during the conversations she was “lucid”, but he was not aware of what medications she was on and did not inquire about them. He testified that he addressed all of her needs for food, water, and bathroom use during his 12 hour daily shifts monitoring her.
In Aafia Siddiqui’s direct testimony during her time at the hospital she said that Bruce’s presence was “torture” for her as he would cross examination, Kammerman conceded that when she needed to go to the bathroom he did insist that the door be open for “security”. According to Siddiqui’s testimony, he would stay all night and because of this during his entire 12 hour shifts she could not go to the bathroom. The Prosecution then brought the other FBI agent who monitored Dr. Siddiqui while in the hospital, Angela Sercer. Sercer is a female Special Agent who also kept 12 hour shifts every day that Siddiqui was at the hospital.
She offered similar testimony to Kammerman, however, acknowledged that Siddiqui was on a wide variety of medications including, morphine, ativan, haldol, phentinol, and percocet; still she maintained that Siddiqui was “lucid”. According to Siddiqui Angela seemed like a “nice person” Both Sercer and Kammerman testified that their purpose in being with Siddiqui was for “security” and to “gather intelligence” about matters unrelated to the shooting incident. They both also testified that Siddiqui initiated the conversations. If neither of these fact were accurate then Miranda Laws would apply and these alleged self-incriminating statements would not be admissible in court.
According to Miranda laws an arrested individual must be advised of their rights including the right to an attorney and/or consular staff, and right not to speak. Also, law enforcement officals must identify themselves. Although Siddiqui was not read her Miranda rights and FBI officals did not identify themselves, the judge has allowed their testimony.
Thursday had marked a turning point in the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who decided to take the witness stand in her own defense. She declared under oath for the first time that she “was tortured in a secret prison” and that her missing children are all that has been on her mind every day. Dr. Siddiqui denied ever having shot at anyone, and appeared to remain unshaken even under intense cross-examination by the prosecution.
She explained that she was shot by US soldiers while attempting to peek around the curtain partition in the interrogation room, while looking for a way to escape. Before her testimony was cut short by the Judge, Dr. Siddiqui mentioned that her fear of being sent back to a secret prison had made her anxious to escape.