Saturday, February 24, 2018

'Bilaal Abdullah shot Robinson, Richardson'


detailed account: Former government minister Emanuel Hosein leaves the Caribbean Court of Justice, Henry Street, Port of Spain yesterday. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES.

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It was Bilaal Abdullah, Jamaat al Muslimeen second-in-command, who shot former prime minister Arthur N R Robinson and former national security minister Selwyn Richardson in the Parliament Chamber.

Many of the witnesses appearing at the Commission of Enquiry thus far, including former minister Joseph Toney and Jennifer Johnson, have said that while they heard the shots, they did not see who fired them.

But yesterday former health minister Emanuel Hosein, offering perhaps the most detailed account of the storming of the Parliament thus far, who filled in some of the gaps.

For example Hosein revealed that in the initial assault on the Parliament, after everyone hit the ground on hearing the gunshots, a Jamaat Al Muslimeen gunman bent down under the table and saw Winston Dookeran.

He hailed him out, saying "Ay Winston Dookeran, the Minister of Planning", hit Dookeran some blows, and said "yuh didn't plan for that though".

Hosein said the gunmen called out Selby Wilson whom they referred to as 'the IMF man' and he gave him some blows too.

He said the gunman recognised him and said "Minister of Health", put his hand under the table, dragged him (Hosein) out by the collar and brought him to the same area of Robinson and Richardson. Hosein's artificial leg was bound to Robinson's leg at that point.

Hosein said as the shooting from outside intensified, Abdullah had told Robinson that he should call off the attack by the security forces or he would shoot the ministers one by one and throw them over the balcony.

Robinson was unyielding and uttered his defiant words "They are murderers. They are torturing us. Attack with full force".

And Abdullah said : "Oh so you have no regard for the life of your ministers," and he fired off two quick shots into the leg of Mr Robinson and Mr Richardson."

"I saw the weapon. I saw the little puff of smoke and saw the legs jump as the bullet hit. In fact I was so much in the angle of fire that I actually looked to see (if he too was hit) ...because I would have been a little way in the pathway," he said.

Hosein said Robinson and Richardson began to groan with pain, with Robinson saying "he would die for his country".

He said a Muslimeen insurgent pushed a handkerchief in Robinson's mouth and to then put a gag across his mouth.

"Mr Robinson started to gag in a manner in which I recognised that his air supply was being cut off".

He said he shouted to the insurgents not to do that or else they would kill him.

Hosein said he rolled over and said to Dookeran, 'Winston yuh see what happening, say yuh going to negotiate'.

"He was shaking, his lower jaw was trembling, I could understand that. And I had to shout to him, two or three times, 'Come on Winston, say yuh going to negotiate, raise yuh hand and say yuh going to negotiate'. And then he sort of caught himself and said (to the Muslimeen) 'Okay let's talk'.

He said at some stage in the discussions, it was suggested that someone from the Opposition be brought into it and John Humphrey was called forward.

Under questioning from Counsel for the Commission, Avory Sinanan, SC, Hosein said he could distinctly recall Dookeran having a conversation with Robinson at one point and Robinson saying 'No, no, I will have no part of that'.

Hosein also recalled that at some stage there was a "ludicrous" proposal that Jamaat al Muslimeen leader Iman Yasin Abu Bakr be made national security Minister.

Hosein, a medical doctor, said he attended to the wounded, including those insurgents who were shot.