Friday, February 23, 2018

Hadeed: I warned Robinson about 1990 coup attempt

Two days before the Friday, July 27, 1990 coup attempt against the then government of prime minister ANR Robinson, Robinson was warned that there might be an attempt to overthrow his government on that day and he was asked not to go to Parliament, or to have the scheduled sitting postponed.

But Robinson declined, saying he had taken an oath of office and he would not deviate from it because of a potential threat.

This was disclosed in an interview on Radio 91.1 yesterday by Gerald Hadeed, former minister of Communications in the present government and now Tourism Minister.

Hadeed said in yesterday’s interview, on the Wednesday evening before July 27, he had gone to Robinson’s home and told him there were reports of a planned assault on the Parliament that Friday and he should either not go to Parliament on that day or have the sitting postponed.

Hadeed was then an official in the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) political party which formed the Robinson government.

Incredibly, no extra security precautions were put in place and members of the insurgent Jamaat-al-Muslimeen stormed the Parliament that Friday afternoon, taking Robinson and other Members of Parliament hostage.

Led by Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, the insurgents also stormed then Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) that same afternoon and held some 24 members of staff hostage for six days until finally surrendering to the army on August 1, 1990.

While in Parliament, the insurgents negotiated an amnesty from the government they were holding under the gun and that amnesty was subsequently upheld by the local courts.

But not by the Privy Council, which eventually ruled the amnesty invalid because the insurgents had continued to make new demands after agreeing to an amnesty.

But the Privy Council also ruled that since four years had passed since the coup attempt, it would not be in keeping with “due process” to have the insurgents all rounded up and tried for their crimes.

So the insurgents remained free.

In a follow-up interview yesterday, Hadeed was asked why he hadn’t given this information about his warning to Robinson to the recently-concluded Commission of Enquiry into the coup attempt.

Hadeed said Robinson himself had appeared before the commission and had not disclosed this information “and out of my respect for the man I didn’t want to contradict him”.

Robinson, who has been very ill for some time, is at St Clair Medical Centre where he has been a patient for several weeks.