Last phase of 1990 enquiry postponed by Sir David Simmons
By Andre Bagoo Sunday, August 11 2013
THE SIXTEENTH and final phase of the Commission of Enquiry into the events of 1990, which had been due to begin tomorrow, has been postponed by Enquiry chairman Sir David Simmons.
A notice on the enquiry’s website reads, “Please be advised that the 16th Session of the Commission is being re-scheduled to run during the month of September, 2013 on the date to be announced. The Secretary.”
Previously, in July, a notice on the website had announced the sittings would go ahead.
“Please be advised that the 16th Session of the Commission is scheduled to run from August 12th to 16th, 2013,” read a previous notice posted at the website as at July 26.
Lawyers involved in the Commission told Sunday Newsday the hearings were cancelled because of a lack of witnesses to testify. Several key witnesses are yet to agree to attend.
At the last sitting of the enquiry in May, chairman Sir David Simmons said the 16th phase would be the last public hearing of the enquiry. But he noted that a date would not be set because there was uncertainty as to how many witnesses would be able to attend.
“There is going to be, for sure, one more session of the Commission,” Sir David said. “At this stage we will adjourn without setting a date because until you get back to us and tell us how many witnesses we have ready for the next session, which we hope to be the final public session, it would be unwise to set a date and to that extent we adjourn now before appointing a date and the public will be advised well in advance when the next session will be. So we will adjourn without a day appointed.”
Sir David continued, “I just want to thank the press and all the support staff here for their contribution at this session as indeed at all the others and to wish them well until we meet again.”
Postponement of the sittings of the inquiry, chaired by the former Barbados Chief Justice Sir David, has come around the same time as an announcement by Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner that he has retained lawyers to sue Sir David in relation to a non-inquiry matter: Sir David’s co-authorship of a Concacaf Report which found Warner had committed fraud and deception in relation to football affairs. Concacaf earlier this month denied it made any concessions to Warner in relation to his planned legal action.
The enquiry also has several pending questions in relation to its own proceedings.
During the inquiry questions arose over the status of one of its commissioners, Haffizool Ali Mohammed. He said he was planning legal action on this.
There were also questions over the inquiry’s power to summon Jamaat al Muslimeen leader Abu Bakr to attend. The inquiry issued a summons, but Bakr refused to attend calling for legal aid to fund a lawyer. The Director of Public Prosecutions, one of two authorities empowered to bring charges in relation to the administration of an inquiry, declined to bring any proceedings after a legal review of all the issues. The inquiry itself has not brought any proceedings against Bakr after it received legal advice that this could adversely impact the legal status of its final report.