Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 24th 2013 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Chairman of the commis-
sion of enquiry into the 1990
attempted coup Sir David Sim-
mons is urging the government
to move swiftly and implement
legislation to reform the com-
mission of enquiry act of T&T.
He said so as Jamaat al Mus-
limeen leader, Yasin Abu Bakr,
who led the bloody July 27, 1990
attempted insurrection again
failed to appear before the com-
mission to testify as public hear-
ings closed yesterday.
The enquiry lasted 116 days.
Simmons said Bakr "did not
have the courage" to appear to
say why the then NAR govern-
ment, led by former prime min-
ister Arthur NR Robinson,
should have been overthrown.
Summing up the proceedings
Simmons suggested that gov-
ernment look at the legislation
of Canada and how that country
treats with commissions of
He said, "As a result of the
Clico Commission and this
commission the government
should give very serious con-
sideration to reform the Com-
mission of Enquiry Act."
In the Clico enquiry sum-
mons were also issued for wit-
nesses who failed to appear.
Under the Commission of
Enquiry s Act Bakr would be
fined $2,000 for non-atten-
dance and failing to provide a
reasonable explanation to the
commission for his absence.
On September 9, a fresh
summons was issued for Bakr
to make an appearance yester-
day but even senior lawyers said
they were not surprised he failed
Simmons, who said the
attendance issue of Bakr had
"gone through some gymnas-
tics" added, the "goal post grad-
ually moved" as the Jamaat
leader also gave excuses why he
should not appear.
Simmons also recounted Sep-
tember last year, when Bakr did
not appear at the enquiry as he
(Bakr) wanted to defer his tes-
timony after his sedition trial
in the High Court, as he did not
want adverse publicity to affect
the case by his testifying at the
On September 3, last year,
Director of Public Prosecutions
Roger Gaspard, SC, suggested
to the commission that Bakr s
testimony be given in camera
and also assured Bakr s testi-
mony would not be used to
mount a case of bad character
in his sedition trial.
In June, Bakr said he would
appear at the enquiry only if he
was paid as much as Simmons.
Saying he "paid no attention
to what Bakr said outside" Sim-
mons added, "He had every
opportunity to come in here
(enquiry). Three of his co-con-
spirators exposed themselves to
"He was the leader and yet
he hasn t got the courage to give
his evidence. And so the goal
post moved from a fair trial to
he will come providing he get
the same fees as me."
Simmons said since the
attempted coup, Bakr had not
had "the search light put on
him" because he had not
exposed himself to any tribu-
nal.Saying Bakr s absence has led
to some sense of "frustration"
Simmons said this would lead
some members of the public to
believe the commission was a
waste of time.
Simmons however, assured
this was not the case as testi-
monies would provide future
generations about an important
piece of the country s history.
He said the report would also
include recommendations on
how the events of July 27 could
be properly honoured.
Although the public sittings
have concluded Simmons said
if it became necessary, the com-
mission would sit in camera.
The report is expected to be
released in the next four
Commissioner Sir Richard
Cheltenham, SC, was absent
yesterday as he was said to be
Simmons said Cheltenham
complained of feeling unwell
last Friday and returned to Bar-
bados on Saturday.
Simmons said he was sup-
posed to return in time for yes-
terday s sitting but was instruct-
ed by his doctor to take a week s
Sir David cries 'foul' over Bakr's non-appearance...
Flaws in enquiry legislation
Chairman of the commission of enquiry into the 1990 attempted
coup Sir David Simmons makes his way to the CCJ on Henry Street
Port-of-Spain yesterday. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
The attempted July 27, 1990 insurrection
by the Jamaat al Muslimeen laid the foun-
dation for the callous and vicious crime
wave the country is experiencing today.
This was the testimony of former prime
minister Basdeo Panday at the commission
of enquiry into the attempted coup, at the
Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Henry
Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
Panday, who began his testimony last Fri-
day, concluded his evidence yesterday.
He alleged that some members of the
Jamaat were hired by certain businessmen
to "collect debts."
Lead attorney to the commission Avory
Sinanan, SC asked Panday whether the
breakdown of law and order in today s society
had any roots in 1990.
In response Panday said, "I m sure it did.
The Jamaat who had taken part in the
attempted coup were actually hired by busi-
nessmen to collect debts.
"The people from the Jamaat were hired
because of their muscle."
Panday said he believed there was a case
pending before the court in which someone
was forced to sign a deed at gunpoint.
The coup attempt, he said, "did set the
stage for lawlessness and it was encouraged
by certain sections of the community that
hired them, because they thought that if
you sent someone in jail for a debt, that
process was taking too long.
"The shorter method was to hire people
from the Jamaat to collect it for you," Panday
On the issue of closure Sinanan said a lot
of people felt emotionally scarred by the
events of 1990.
Asked how closure could be achieved,
Panday said, "Death is the most common
phenomenon known to man and the least
to which he has grown accustomed (sic).
"There is nothing you can do to undo the
past. You can t undo those things that have
already been done. We must go forward."
He reiterated it would be dangerous for
Jamaat members to be discriminated against.
On what lesson could be learnt from the
attempted coup Panday said one of the
biggest problems was the management of
funds as there were limited resources which
would not satisfy all the wants of a coun-
try.Saying he did not believe in the death
penalty Panday said he was not sure whether
carrying out executions would reduce crime.
"I do not know if by carrying out the
death penalty during the term we were in
office, whether that had any influence in
bringing crime down. I wish there could be
more research into that matter," Panday said.
A hero, leader and great soldier who served
his country well, especially in handling the
failed 1990 coup attempt.
Those were among tributes paid to former
national security minister Brig Joseph Theodore.
He died last week of a heart attack. The Senate,
of which he was a member while serving as
national security minister between 1995 and
2000, observed a minute s silence on his pass-
National Security Minister Gary Griffith said
a few weeks ago he had been about to approach
Theodore to become his special adviser.
Griffith said Theodore, who was trained at
Sandhurst, was a great soldier, leader, role model
and father-figure as well as national security
minister. He said murders were down to 100 in
He added: "If I can accomplish half of what
he did I would be successful. T&T was very
confident when he was security minister. "
Griffith said when he was in the Defence Force
in 1990 Theodore had commanded him to quell
enemy fire emanating from the back of Camp
Independent Senator Elton Prescott said
Theodore belonged to the category of T&T s
heroes, had featured in a book about T&T s
cadet corps and had also been among pioneers
who rose to the top of the T&T Regiment.
Prescott said Theodore was successful as
national security minister even merely based on
the fact that he served his full term as much as
containing the murder rate. Prescott noted some
ministers in that portfolio have not served an
He said although leadership in the 1960s and
1970s emanated mainly from QRC, he said
Theodore was different, having come from St
Mary s College.
Because of Theodore s experience, maturity
and knowledge of his forces, he said, a lot of
bloodshed was probably averted during the 1990
PNM Senator Terrence Deyalsingh said
Theodore was among T&T s many heroes, par-
ticularly for his role in quelling the coup attempt.
He said he planned to ensure Theodore was
inducted into the St Mary s Hall of Fame. Deyals-
ingh said it had been planned for him to be
inducted there before he had died.
"A gentleman, hero, patriot, husband and
father," Deyalsingh added.
Senate president Timothy Hamel-Smith also
said he endorsed the view of Theodore as a hero.
"He stood out in his wisdom and compassion,
not only in times of crisis but it was part of the
fibre of him as a person. He was a committed
soldier who loved his country," he added.
Senate pays tribute
to Theodore---the hero
Panday claims 1990 set stage for today's lawlessness
Brig Joseph Theodore
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