Let Abu Bakr go, defence tells jurors
ATTORNEY Wayne Sturge yesterday urged members of the jury in the sedition trial against Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader, Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, to find Bakr not guilty on four charges brought against him by the State.
The charges arose out of comments he made during an Eid-ul-Fitr sermon delivered at the Jamaat’s Mucurapo Road, St James mosque on November 4, 2005. Portions of the sermon about the collection of Zakaat (similar to tithes offered by the Christian community) were aired later that day during CNC 3’s 7 p.m. newscast.
Addressing the nine-member jury with six alternates for a fourth day in the Third Criminal Court at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, Sturge asked if any of them held any vengeance in their hearts against Bakr that they should put it aside.
“If you hate him, don’t let that affect you,” Sturge said.
“It is easy to hate someone like him. But when you come to adjudicate, I want you to ask if hating him is enough reason to find him guilty.
“Is there anything he said in the sermon that is not true?”
Sturge said Bakr’s only purpose, as a father figure, was to educate his congregation.
“Is he not entitled to use imagery ?”
“What is he talking about and who is he talking to? When you see boys of African descent and they appear to be poor, all you can think about is that they are coming to rob you.
“Isn’t he entitled to say to rich Muslims give two-and-a-half per cent of your wealth so they won’t come to rob you? Who feeding the poor? (Head of the Emancipation Support Committee) Khafra Kambon (who) only bussing up he mouth for a $4m so people could dress up and wine? I can bet your bottom dollar that if he (Bakr) didn’t call (Arthur) Lok Jack or (Howard) Chin Lee or Sabga name, they (the police) would not have come for him.”
Sturge asked the jurors to look at the sermon again when they go to deliberate on the evidence.
“Get a feel for what he is saying and the mood. If when you watch that video, if you hear what I hear and if you see what I see and if you feel what I feel, then your verdict must be not guilty.
“It is a man’s right to use his religious doctrine to say what is wrong.”
Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal who, along with attorneys Renuka Rambhajan and Shelly-Ann Gajadhar, is representing the State is expected to begin her closing address to the jury when the trial resumes this morning.