Bakr in the witness box
Jamaat leader to give evidence next Monday
Ria Taitt Political Editor
THE man who led the July 1990 coup attempt, Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, is scheduled to give evidence next Monday before the Commission of Enquiry which has resumed at the offices of the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port of Spain.
Lead counsel for the Commission, Avory Sinanan, said yesterday that Bakr was likely to be in the witness box all of next week though Commission chairman Sir David Simmons wondered aloud whether five days would be enough for Bakr.
Simmons was concerned that the Commission was deficient on the details and circumstances surrounding the amnesty and urged Sinanan to bring together the "two or three key persons” who were involved in the amnesty.
The Express learnt that these persons were former chief justice Michael De La Bastide, senior counsel Martin Daly and Fyard Hosein.
Sinanan said the members of the Commission were privy to the efforts already made to get those persons to come aboard it. He said he was reliably informed that Emmanuel Carter who acted as President when the amnesty was granted, though alive, was unfit and unable to come and give evidence.
There were others, whom Sinanan did not name, whose input into the amnesty was critical, but "there was a certain reluctance, for whatever reason, for those persons to come forward. For some it was memory, for others it is timing," he said.
Simmons said the Commissioners could not do justice to the Enquiry and the law (governing the Enquiry) which requires them to conduct a "true and faithful enquiry as to what happened".
Sinanan suggested that maybe these witnesses can make a statement, but not appear to give evidence. However Simmons was not in favour of this idea, saying that these witnesses must be exposed to the same opportunities as all the other witnesses who appeared before the Commission.
Contact by the Express, Daly said he was not reluctant to give evidence, nor was he reluctant to be cross-examined. He said he did not expect to receive any special treatment. However he said he received a telephone call from the most junior attorney at the Commission who asked whether he was prepared to give a statement. He said he required certain assurances (which he detailed to the attorney) if that was to be done. "Her only response was 'my task is limited to finding out if he would give a statement'. He said he heard nothing more except that there were two more approaches from the same attorney. He said he indicated that he was not willing to go any further until he received a response to what he had initially asked for (i.e the assurances).
Daly, who voluntarily gave evidence before the Uff Enquiry, also indicated that the Commission of Enquiry into the coup attempt approached him "far too late having regard to my other professional commitments".
At yesterday's sitting, former attorney general John Jeremie appeared as attorney to lead the evidence of City Building Inspector Deoraj Ramtahal, on behalf of the City Corporation. Ramtahal gave details on the relationship and correspondence between the Corporation which owned the land at Mucurapo Road and the Jamaat.
Today acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Kenrick Maharaj will give evidence in camera.
The Commission is expected to finalise this week the list of persons to receive Salmon Letters. These are individuals against whom allegations have been made. Highly likely on this list are former prime ministers Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday.