Nizam needs more time: to testify at next sitting
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Nizam Mohammed, who was scheduled to appear before the Commission of Enquiry today, will appear at the next session.
This has led to the cancellation of today's sitting of the Enquiry.
Mohammed was due to appear to respond to allegations made by former Clerk of the House, Raphael Cumberbatch.
Cumberbatch had stated under oath that he was told by a senior member of the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission in Barbados that Mohammed had attempted to facilitate the granting of landing rights to a Libyan aircraft in Trinidad and Tobago days after the July 27, 1990 attempted coup.
He also said that he was told by a member of the Parliament staff that Andy Thomas (one of the insurgents) had visited Mohammed at the Speaker's chamber on two occasions in February 1990.
Counsel for the Commission Avory Sinanan SC yesterday stated that contrary to statements in the media (that Mohammed did not plan to testify), Mohammed had told the Commission's instructing attorney that he was preparing a witness statement and he needed more time to consult with his counsel and he would not be ready for today's hearing.
"He certainly didn't give instructing attorney the impression that he would not be attending the Enquiry at all. So it may be that he would come...at some later stage...when he puts his house in order," Sinanan stated.
Sources said Mohammed said he needed more time because he wants to retain counsel to cross-examine Cumberbatch.
Sir David Simmons, chairman of the Commission, said he was "delighted" when he first heard that Mohammed was coming voluntarily "because there are innuendoes implicit in the evidence".
Simmons stressed that the Commission would not be drawing any inferences adverse to persons against whom allegations have been made or smears against them without giving those persons an opportunity to come before the Commission and offer a response or refutation.
The Commission placed an advertisement today explaining why there would be no sitting, stating that the "witness has been scheduled to appear at the next session".