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Abu Bakr misses court date

NATASHA BECKLES, [email protected]

Abu Bakr misses court date

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PORT OF SPAIN – The leader of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen, Yasin Abu Bakr, failed to appear in court yesterday to answer a private complaint as to why he failed to appear before a Commission of inquiry probing the circumstances that led to the 1990 attempted coup in Trinidad and Tobago.
The complaint had been filed in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court by the Secretary to the Commission, Larraine Lutchmedial.
But his attorney Criston J. Williams told Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar that his client had suffered another infection on the big toe of his right foot as a result of complications associated with his diabetic condition.
However attorney, Larry Lalla, who appears with Senior Counsel Israel Khan, and Michael Rooplal for the Commission, said that they were anxious for the matter to start, since the Commission’s term will come to an end in March.
He said his client wanted the matter to be dealt with expeditiously so it can complete its work by the end of March.
Bakr, 71, has refused to appear before the Commission and in a radio interview last year said he would only appear if he is paid to give evidence.
 “If you want to take my time, you paying (Sir David) Simmons and the other people for their time and if you want to take my time you have to pay me equally for my time because with me they would not exist,” said Bakr, adding only salves work for free.
“I am a free man and not a slave,” he said.
At least 24 people, including one legislator, Leo Des Vignes, were killed during the six-day insurrection in July 1990, and although Bakr and the members of his Jamaat-Al-Muslimeen group were tried for treason, the Court of Appeal upheld an 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.
The coalition People’s Partnership government, which came to office in 2010, set up the Commission headed by prominent Barbadian jurist Sir David Simmons to probe the circumstances leading to the actions by the Muslim group.
The case has been adjourned until January 31. (CMC)