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Robinson was prepared to die

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Robinson was prepared to die

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Former prime minister of Trinidad ANR Robinson today said that he was not afraid of death when members of the radical Jamaat-Al-Muslimeen group stormed the Parliament in July 1990 in a bid to overthrow his lawfully elected government.
Robinson was the second witness called by the five-member Commission of Inquiry that is chaired by prominent Barbadian jurist Sir David Simmons. He told the Commission that he had just returned to the Parliament having visited Tobago on July 27, 1990 when he heard the noise and gun shots.
“I looked around and saw men with guns, they looked like ruffians to me. I thought they had come to stop the debate,” he said, telling the commissioners that the Parliament had been debating allegations of corruption in the government prior to 1986 when the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) came to office with a convincing 33-3 margin.
He said that one of the men “stamped his boot on my face” and he realised they were Muslims when they uttered the words “Allah U Akbar”.
A frail looking Robinson, who was wheeled into the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) building where the Commission is hearing evidence, said he had also used media reports to associate the men with Yasin Abu Barkr, the leader of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen group.
At least 24 people, including one legislator, Leo Des Vignes, were killed during the six day insurrection that ended on August 1.
Bakr and his men were tried for treason, but the Court of Appeal upheld the amnesty offered to secure their surrender, and they were released.
However, The London-based Privy Council, the country’s highest court, later invalidated the amnesty, but the Muslimeen members were not re-arrested. (CMC)