Former Barbadian Chief Justice indicates Statute of Limitations has expired on Insurrectionists of Trinidad’s 1990 coup

{Photo Courtesy: Brian Ng Fatt} It was revealed Jamaat al Muslimeen leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, and the 113 insurrectionists who staged the attempted coup on July 27,1990 cannot be prosecuted anymore for the serious offences committed during the event. This was made clear by chairman Sir David Simmons yesterday on the first day of the commission of enquiry into the the events surrounding the coup.

Trinidad’s online version of the Guardian revealed two eminent members of the Bajan legal fraternity are in session for Port Of Spain’s inquest over the Jamaat Al-Muslimeen attempted overthrow of the then A.N.R Robinson presidency, the attack which occurred two decades ago now has new blow to Trinidadians…

The time for successful prosecution of ringleader Abu Bakr and his lieutenants has come and gone, this was the stark reality presented by Sir David Simmons – Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry during his initial remarks at the Caribbean Court of Justice;-

This was made clear by Sir David yesterday on the first day of the commission of enquiry into the the events surrounding the coup. I wish to make the purpose and extent of this commission of enquiry pellucidly clear and dispel any lingering misconceptions,” Simmons said in his opening statement during the first sitting at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Henry Street, Port-of-Spain.

He pointed out that the commission was mandated to inquire into criminal acts in connection with the coup, identify any persons involved and make recommendations in respect of the prosecution of such persons. He said, however, that theirability to fully comply with those mandates may well be limited by the operation of the law.”

Sir David, who was also a former Attorney General from Bridgetown, then made it clear that any statements from witnesses had to be based on actual events and not conjecture;-

It is crucial that all those who can give evidence, do so. That evidence will be pivotal to our ultimate findings and report.” Simmons said the commission had a fairly long list of potential witnesses it had identified who would be interviewed by the commission’s counsel before they testified. “We cannot allow ‘ole talk’,” he said. He said while the commission had the power to summon witnesses, he trusted they would see it as a matter of national duty to give evidence freely without having to be summoned.

The deputy in this inquest is also another famous legal Bajan, he’s been Minister of Tourism and MP for St Joseph in the past;-

Sir David Simmons, chairman:
Sir Richard Cheltenham, deputy chairman;
• Diana Mahabir-Wyatt;
• Dr Eastlyn McKenzie; and
• Dr Hafizool Mohammed

Over the next few days, this CCJ committee will examine the following;-

• The causes, nature, extent and impact of the attempted coup, including any contributing historical, social, economic, political and other factors;

• the underlying purpose and extent of the plot that led to the attempted coup;

• any criminal acts and omissions, including looting, which were committed in connection with the attempted coup and the motives and objectives of the perpetrators of such acts or omissions;

• the identity of any person or local, regional or international authority, institution, organisation or entity who incited, masterminded planned, directed, conspired towards, consented to, connived at, acquiesced in, participated in, aided or abetted the carrying out of, had prior knowledge of, or was implicated or otherwise involved in criminal acts or omissions, including looting, which were committed in connection with the attempted coup and the extent to which any such person, authority, institution, organisation or entuty did any such thing or had prior knowledge of, or was implicated or otherwise involved in, any such acts or omissions;

• the national security deficiencies and breaches of law that facilitated the attempted coup and the extent to which it was possible to prevent the occurrence of the attempted coup;

• the response and performance of the Government, the Defence Force, the Protective Services and other essential services, the foreign service and the media during and after the attempted coup;

• all matters pertaining to the negotiation, preparation, execution and effect of the amnesty and the negotiation of the terms of surrender; and,

• the continuing propensities for criminal activity arising from the attempted coup and the trafficking, supplying and possession of illegal drugs, firearms and ammunition.

The commission will make observations and recommendations arising out of its deliberations in relation to:
• The prosecution of persons for criminals acts or omissions in connection with the attempted coup;

• the policies, measures, mechanisms and systems that should be put in place to detect, counteract and treat with plots to overthrow the democratically elected Government of T&T and other acts of treason, terrorism and insurrection;

• the development of the capacity of the Government of T&T to maintain national security, democratic governance and the protection of citizens of T&T and state property in the event of a future occurrence of an attempted coup d’etat or other acts of treason, terrorism or insurrection;

• the consequence of any historical, social, economic, political and other factors that may have contributed to the attempted coup; and.

• ensuring that victims of the attempted coup and the society as a whole are satisfied that their pain, loss, suffering and damage have been acknowledged, with a view to fostering closure of the events surrounding the attempted coup.

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