Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 27th 2013 Contents A9
Saturday, July 27, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
A DYNAMIC COMPANY IN THE SHIPPING INDUSTRY
HAS THE FOLLOWING VACANCIES AVAILABLE:
1. Accounting assistant
2. Administrative assistant / Secretary
3. Exports coordinator
4. Hiab drivers / Heavy-T Drivers
5. Imports coordinator
6. Warehouse attendant / Packers for Household
and Personal Effects
If interested and you have experience in any of the above
positions, please apply to:
c/o Trinidad Guardian
St. Vincent Street, P.O.S.
No later than August 16, 2013.
The commission of enquiry established to inquire
into the events surrounding the attempted over-
throw of the National Alliance for Reconstruction
(NAR) government on July 27, 1990 began two and
a half years ago and is yet to be concluded.
So far, 92 witnesses have given evidence in 15 ses-
sions stretching over the period. People directly
involved in the bloody uprising or who were victims
or relatives of victims have testified.
Witnesses included NAR politicians who were
held hostage for six days in Parliament by a group
of Jamaat al Muslimeen insurgents, including then
prime minister Arthur NR Robinson, who was shot
They told how they went without food and water
and lay bound and gagged on the floor of the Par-
liament chamber with guns to their heads while
gunfire between the rebels and the soldiers went in
and out the Red House.
Rawle Raphael, one of the MPs at the time, told
the commission that a member of the Muslimeen
who was also a part of the NAR s A Team, warned
him about the attempted takeover but he took it as
a big joke.
Former prime ministers Basdeo Panday and Patrick
Manning have not testified, thus far. Politicians who
testified said these two were absent from Parliament
on July 27, 1990, when the Muslimeen invaded the
Panday has not responded positively to requests
for him to testify and has asked if he could cross-
examine people who made allegations against him.
Manning reportedly suffered a stroke and could
not make it. Robinson attended the enquiry in a
wheelchair and gave evidence with the use of a hear-
Members of the Defence Force, like Col Hugh
Vidale, Brigadier Ralph Brown and Joe Theodore,
who played a key role in helping to quell the insur-
rection, also gave evidence. Vidale said he met with
uprising leader Yasin Abu Bakr before the attempted
coup but denied it had anything to do with the fatal
Several senior police officers from the Special
Branch, the intelligence unit at the time, said they
knew something was going to happen based on infor-
mation they gathered but told of a disconnect with
the government hierarchy and the Defence Force.
Former Jamaat insurgents testified, too. Jamaal
Shabazz, who led the takeover of Trinidad Broad-
casting Company, was close to tears as he recounted
the reasons for the attempted coup.
He traced it back to the killing of WPC Bernadette
James who saw then NAR national security minister
Selwyn Richardson in a room in Piarco airport with
some other people testing cocaine.
James who accidentally went into the room told
the Jamaat she feared for her life and was later report-
edly shot in an exercise in Chaguaramas.
Shabazz apologised for the hurt and pain the rebels
caused T&T. Loris Ballack, another senior Muslimeen
told the commission he was not apologising and said
he saw no need for any reconciliation. He said Jamaat
members have been interacting with society as usual
after the incident.
Ballack, part of the takeover of Trinidad & Tobago
Television (TTT) said he was prepared for paradise.
However, paradise was postponed and he ate a plant
at TTT which helped sustain him, he said.
There have been repeated calls and attempts by
the commission secretariat to Bakr to
testify but he has consistently refused,
citing ill health and an ongoing court
case as the reasons.
Several victims cried as they told
the commissioners of their experience.
Members of the public have ques-
tioned the usefulness of the enquiry
in which five commissioners were hired,
two of them prominent Barbadians.
The Government has reportedly
spent $31 million in fees, so far. The
commission is expected to have one
final session in August and then wrap
up to begin compiling its report.
Commission chairman, Sir David
Simmons, in his opening statement at
the start of the enquiry on January 24,
2011, made the purpose and extent of
the enquiry pellucidly clear.
Dispelling any lingering misconcep-
tions, he said it is a matter of legal
record that some people who were
involved in the coup d etat had their
cases heard and determined and those
Sir David Simmons (chairman)---former chief
Sir Richard Cheltenham (deputy chairman)---
Dr Eastlyn McKenzie
Dr Hafizool Ali Mohammed
matters were "res judicata" and beyond the purview
of the commission.
He quoted Lord Woolf from the Privy Council who
said it would be an abuse of process to seek once
more to prosecute the Muslimeen for the serious
offences committed in the course of the insurrec-
Simmons added, however, that the commission s
terms of reference do not prevent them from iden-
tifying and, if necessary, recommending the pros-
ecution of others who may have been involved in
criminal conduct during the attempted coup.
He said they have been assigned the heavy respon-
sibility of examining the events surrounding the 1990
uprising in a quasi-judicial manner "with a view to
closing that chapter in this country s history.
"Our report is likely to be the final and definitive
word on those events," Simmons said.
NAR leader Dr Carson Charles
National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) leader
Dr Carson Charles said he never expected any "more
justice" from the commission of enquiry into the
1990 attempted coup since the former insurgents
were already heard and tried.
Charles said he felt the enquiry was mainly to let
the country hear what happened and for vital lessons
to be learnt.
He said one of the main lessons to be learnt is
that when a particular kind of environment is created
it sends to message to misguided groups/individuals
that the country would endorse radical actions they
Charles said before the July 1990 uprising, the
PNM created an environment of hate and protests
against the NAR government.
"It was the first time they had lost an election
and their reaction was extreme. The PNM felt it had
a divine right to rule.
"The NAR faced the brunt of the PNM s wrath
and for years after we won the 1986 election, was
constantly under attack."
Noting he was not making a link between the
PNM and the July 1990 coup attempt, Charles warned
that "important people" today need to be very careful
of making statements and creating the kind of envi-
ronment that could incite misguided people.
After more than two years and 92 witnesses...
Coup enquiry still
to be wrapped up
FLASHBACK: Soldiers stand guard over weapons recovered from insurrectionists
who raided the Red House on July 27, 1990.
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