Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Pakistani woman denies shooting US Afghan soldiers

Aafia Siddiqui
Aafia Siddiqui has refused to co-operate with her defence team

A Pakistani woman alleged to have shot at US soldiers yelled at jurors on the first day of her trial that she had been held in a secret prison.

Neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, 37, had to be escorted out of a courtroom in New York after disrupting a witness giving testimony.

She is being tried on attempted murder charges - she says she is innocent.

She is alleged to have used a rifle to fire at US agents while waiting to be questioned in Afghanistan.

Ms Siddiqui was shot during that incident.

'Mass-casualty attacks'

Assistant attorney Jenna Dabbs told jurors that Ms Siddiqui was taken into custody by Afghan police in July 2008 because she was carrying containers of unidentified chemicals and notes referring to "mass-casualty attacks" in New York such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Ms Siddiqui is charged only with the shooting incident.

She wore a white veil and sat with her head in her arms throughout most of the proceedings in the federal court.

She interrupted evidence against her to allege that she was held in a "secret prison... where children were tortured".

There was "no list of targets against New York", she added. "I was never planning to bomb it."

US Army Capt Robert Snyder told the jury on Tuesday that an unnamed soldier created a deadly risk by not securing his weapon at an Afghan police outpost on 18 July 2008.

I was absolutely certain there was nothing I could do to get out of her line of fire
US Army Capt Robert Snyder

He described seeing the soldier put down the rifle and turn away to shake hands with police before gunfire started.

Prosecutors allege that while being detained at that outpost, Ms Siddiqui grabbed the weapon and fired it.

Capt Snyder testified that at the time of the shooting he looked towards a curtain and saw a woman kneeling on a bed and pointing the rifle.

"I could see the inner portion of the barrel, which indicated to me it was pointing straight at my head," he said. "I was absolutely certain there was nothing I could do to get out of her line of fire."

Seconds later he saw an interpreter for the army struggling to subdue Ms Siddiqui.

She has declined to work with her defence lawyers and argued that she would not get a fair trial if there were Jewish people on the jury.

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