Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated Pakistani neuroscientist whose lawyers argued is mentally unstable, was sentenced to 86 years in prison in a New York district court for trying to shoot American soldiers in an Afghanistan police station two years ago.Question 1: Since federal law has no parole and does not allow sentence reductions for "good behavior," would it have been more merciful and just for Judge Berman to sentence the defendant to death (if he had had the power to do so) rather than sentence her to imprisonment for a term of 86 years?
Richard Berman, the sentencing judge, was unswayed by the defense's request for leniency on the basis of mental illness. Siddiqui herself remained calm in court, and called for peace after her sentencing.
''Don't get angry,'' she said, according to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper. ''Forgive Judge Berman."
Question 2: Is it possible the defendant was sentenced to imprisonment for 86 years because she may be related by marriage to a mass murderer? (The article quoted above also states: "US court filings say she told FBI agents that she'd married Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the man who carried out most of the planning for the 9/11 attacks and who is in US custody in Guantánamo Bay.") What would you say if that were the case?