Aafia Siddiqui's Struggle for Justice
An innocent woman given a virtual life sentence by America.
by Stephen Lendman
Previous articles discussed her 2003 abduction, detention, torture, false charges, prosecution, and conviction despite clear evidence she's innocent.
Nonetheless, in September 2010, she was wrongly sentenced to 86 years in prison. Imprisoning her for hours, let alone years, constitutes gross injustice. Doing so compounded years of horrific treatment in US custody, including sadistic torture.
On February 10, lawyers appealed her case before the New York-based US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Attorney Dawn Cardi argued that Aafia's treatment left her emotionally incapable of testifying on her own behalf, despite her client's objections.
She was hospitalized at the time under the influence of percocet and other pain medication for her injuries.
Moreover, years of brutal torture left her paranoid schizophrenic from the ordeal. During oral arguments, Cardi challenged alleged evidence presented. It was entirely fraudulent on its face. She also claimed Aafia's statements were involuntarily obtained. As a result, new trial proceedings are warranted.
Notably, imposed terrorism enhancements (TEs) compounded imposed injustice. They're used against defendants convicted of trying to influence or coerce government policy by alleged involvement in or promotion of terrorist acts. As a result, the obscure 1995 measure lets judges dramatically increase sentences unjustly up to 20 years.
Dozens of defendants were wrongfully harmed. Judges go along with malicious prosecutors trying victims like Siddiqui on false charges. They're then aggravated by bogus terrorist accusations.
Even legitimate criminals convicted of minor charges are treated like hardened offenders. Justice is entirely denied, especially after courts ruled judges can apply TEs to defendants not convicted of terrorism charges.
Prosecutors need only convince judges that alleged crimes targeted government policy, and "involved or is intended to promote, a federal crime of terrorism," whether or not any act occurred.
On the basis of this phrase, judges have complete discretion to apply TEs indiscriminately. Siddiqui's one of many victims.
Her fate's in the hands of three appellate judges: Richard Wesley, Susan Carney and Roslynn Mauskopf. Cardi expects their ruling in three or four months after which "there is no other recourse. Unless there is a constitutional issue of significance, you cannot make an appeal to the Supreme Court, but it's too early to say."
The International Justice Network (IJN) on Aafia
Founded in 2006, IJN provides legal help to survivors of human rights abuses and their families. It particularly focuses on "global war on terror" victims like Aafia.