Copy of ‘petition for commutation sentence of Dr Aafia’ submitted in SHC

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Karachi: The copy of a ‘petition for commutation sentence’ by Pakistani mother Dr Aafia Siddiqui on December 12, 2019, was submitted by Aafia Movement Pakistan (AMP) leader and noted neurophysician of the country Dr Fowzia Siddiqui to the Sindh High Court (SHC) here Wednesday in connection with her constitutional petition CP-2144/2020.

Dr Fowzia Siddiqui along with her lawyer Irfan Aziz Advocate submitted the copy of the petition and its one copy was also received by the government attorney. The next hearing of the case is on June 24, 2020.

As per the summary of Commutation Petition of Aafia:

A petition was filed recently with the office of Pardon Attorney seeking commutation of the sentence meted to Dr Aafia because of serious doubts concerning the validity of the charges and the fairness of the trial and sentence. All forensic and physical evidence point towards Aafia’s innocence.

Summary of Commutation Petition Filed:

A petition prepared by Dr Fowzia’s attorneys Kathy Manley and Stephen Downs was supposed to be filed with the office of Pardon Attorney but was mismanaged by the embassy of Pakistan and without consulting us they submitted to the prison warden.

This petition is seeking commutation of the sentence meted to Dr Aafia because of serious doubts concerning the validity of the charges and the fairness of the trial and sentence. All forensic and physical evidence point towards Aafia’s innocence. The commutation petition makes the following points.

1. Aafia was charged with the Attempted Murder of a group of American soldiers in Ghazni Afghanistan in March 2008. She allegedly grabbed a loaded M4 rifle and shot twice at the soldiers before she was shot twice to thrice by one of the soldiers and almost killed. The prosecution identified two bullet holes in the wall that Aafia’s errant shots supposedly made, and witness testimony varied if she had shot in that direction with a high powered M4 rifle. However, the FBI did a very thorough forensic examination of the room, and found no evidence that an M4 rifle had ever been fired in the small entirely enclosed room. No bullets were in the two holes in the wall, and a photograph taken day before the shooting incident showed the same two holes already present. The evidence shows that Aafia never shot at the soldiers as charged, there was no plausible way, and she is therefore innocent.

2. Five years before the incident in Ghazni, Aafia and her three children were kidnapped off of the streets of Karachi by Pakistani authorities, apparently at the request of the American government. The kidnapping is well documented. Aafia and her children were apparently held as ghost prisoners at a black site, perhaps associated with Bagram in Afghanistan and Aafia was tortured there. One of her children, Suleiman, aged 6 months, apparently died during the kidnapping – the other two children were eventually returned by the authorities after Aafia was convicted in 2008.

Aafia is a victim of abduction, rendition and torture, not a criminal. The US government acknowledged having information about this illegal rendition and refused to disclose it to the defense even though it was critical to Aafia’s defense.

3. The governments of Pakistan and the US hired lawyers to defend Aafia, but the lawyers had an obvious conflict of interest; they were being paid by governments that wanted to cover up Aafia’s illegal abduction, rendition and torture. Although Aafia properly reject them and refused to cooperate with them, the court forced her to go forward with lawyers she had repeatedly rejected. The lawyers for their part repeatedly objected and interfered with Aafia’s attempts to testify, and to describe her torture and release from captivity even though such testimony was critical to her defense. As a result, the trial was unfair and indeed a mockery of justice.

4. Even if Aafia made an attempt to injure American soldiers (and this was never proved), a sentence of 86 years shocks the conscience and is grossly excessive where nobody was injured except Aafia. She was never charged with terrorism and so an outrageous 86 year sentence is a political sentence, rendering Aafia a prisoner of conscience. The trial was designed to discredit and silence Aafia for the rest of her life in order to cover up the crimes of the American and Pakistani governments against her and against her family.

5. Aafia is a mother of three, who has suffered enough. Her mother is critically ill. Her children are growing up without any contact with their mother, two of whom are American citizens by birth. Aafia’s family is a distinguished family with a legacy of promoting education and social welfare and no signs of extremism. Aafia’s only dream was to bring an educational revolution.

Aafia’s mental health is fragile. She was diagnosed at the trial as suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and her confinement in Texas has only made her condition worse. Aafia should be sent home on humanitarian grounds as she is no threat to anyone.

6. Aafia’s case is a rallying cry for humanitarians worldwide as it has clouded America’s claims that Muslim community will be treated with respect equal to other communities when such allegations remain unanswered or unmitigated.

7. Since Aafia was treated unjustly by the courts, her sentence should be commuted and she sent home. If her allegations are not true then explain how an 86-year sentence can be justified for an acknowledged victim of rendition and torture, who never hurt anyone and who herself was almost killed. Surely there is room for compassion and mercy here.

8. Aafia’s case has become a litmus test for justice in America; the Legal and human rights community is not convinced that justice was done in Aafia’s case or that justice is being done to other members of the Muslim community. We ask President Of USA to resolve this issue beginning with Aafia’s case so that the world may have assurances that there are not two systems of justice in America – one for the majority and one for the Muslims and other minorities.

These are the primary allegations of the commutation petition, says a release of AMP.

As per an affidavit of Tina Foster:

Dr. Siddiqui has endured more than I would have ever imagined any single human being could survive. Had I not personally heard the details of her plight, and investigated and independently verified the facts myself, her story would seem unbelievable. But after hearing her describe first-hand the horrors she has endured, and having witnessed her current conditions, I am not only 100% convinced of the reality of her decade long suffering, but I am daily tormented by the thought of her ongoing plight.