Prosecution recalls failed coup in 1990
By JADA LOUTOO Thursday, July 19 2012
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HEADING DEFENCE TEAM: Attorney Wayne Sturge...
JAMAAT al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakrís staging of the failed July 1990 insurrection is being used against him by the prosecution at his sedition trial.
Yesterday, it was being shown that he, Bakr, has a tendency to engage in a forceful type of behaviour against lawfully established authority:
The storming of the Red House, where the prime minister and other parliamentarians were held hostage, as well as the studios of Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) by Muslimeen insurgents under his command. Also, the bombing of the Police Headquarters at St Vincent Street formed part of the formal admission allowed by Justice Mark Mohammed in the prosecutionís case.
It is the Stateís contention that the offence of treason, for which Bakr was charged after his surrender following the insurgency on July 27, 1990, and that of sedition, for which he is now before the courts, closely resembled each other legally.
Bakr is before Justice Mark Mohammed in the Port-of-Spain Third Criminal Court, on a four- count indictment of communicating a statement with seditious intent; provoking a breach of the peace; and inciting others to demand money by menace.
The charges arose from statements Bakr made during his Eid-ul-Fitr sermon at his Mucurapo mosque on November 4, 2005.
According to Mohammed, who read out the agreed facts in the formal admission to the jury, it is the prosecutionís contention that it was in Bakrís nature, and a character trait of his, to engage in insurrection-type behaviour.
The State will also rely on Bakrís actions in 1990, for which he has accepted responsibility, to prove his state of mind at the time he gave his sermon. The evidence will also be used to call on the jury to determine whether they can believe the allegations made against one of the prosecutionís main witnesses, Bro Noble Khan, of being a pawn in a conspiracy by former Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, and former Attorney General, John Jeremie, to get back at the Jamaat leader.
While pointing out to the jury that the evidence relating to July, 1990, was but a small part of the evidence of the prosecutionís case, Mohammed said it was not direct evidence of sedition, but an allegation by the State of a character trait of Bakr.
According to the prosecution, in his mind, and by his choice of words, Bakr would have appreciated his audience ó made up of predominately young Muslims, similar to those who were under his command in 1990 ó would have understood and interpreted what he said as a literal call to arms for the forceful collection of Zakat, as opposed to a religious and metaphorical interpretation.
The judgeís directions to the jury came after he read out the formal admission to them, explaining why he did so, especially since they were questioned at length during the jury selection process, and told to ignore any prejudices or knowledge they had of the attempted coup, and to judge Bakr solely on the evidence adduced at the trial.
It is the contention of the defence that the events of July 1990, were irrelevant to the charges of sedition and incitement for which Bakr stands indicted before the court.
Prior to the evidence of the failed insurrection being told to the jury, a Zakat calculation form, distributed by the Darul-ul-oom Islamic Institute, as well as a portion of Bakrís speech which as previously been omitted, were tendered into evidence.
As he returned to complete his evidence, Khan said he was aware that Bakr and his then second in command, Bilaal Abdulah, who led the Muslimeen insurgents in the Red House, had parted ways, but could not recall details of the spilt, nor did he recall the specifics as it related to the killing of WPC Bernadette James, who was killed months before the July 1990, insurrection during a police training exercise at Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas.