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Jamaat lockdown *LINK*


IT WAS lockdown time in Port-of-Spain yesterday. Not because of the ceremonial opening of the new session of Parliament, but because of Jamaat Al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, who was due in court to answer the charge of conspiracy to murder.

The security officials were correct in their assessment as more than 100 members and supporters of the Muslimeen leader packed the court room and corridors of the Port-of-Spain Magistratesí Court to hear the evidence against their leader. The situation was more tense as the star witness in the case ó Brent Miller ó is a member of the Jamaat who was granted immunity by the State from the murder at the Movie Towne Cineplex in return for his testimony against Bakr. From as early as 7.30 am yesterday, there was an unusual amount of traffic in the city. The police blocked off streets around the Red House, where President George Maxwell Richards was scheduled to open the new session of Parliament hours later. Traffic backed up for miles throughout the day because of the cordoning off of streets in the city. But security officials concentrated their efforts on the re-appearance of the Muslimeen leader to answer the charge. As if pre-arranged, the Muslimeen support was overwhelming, creating great discomfort for court staff and other people using the court building. Muslimeen members, especially those in black and red, who refer to themselves as the "Guardians of Islam," soon occupied the upstairs corridor of the courthouse. Added to that, there was the usual Monday crowd who had gathered to have their cases heard and determined.

When it became evident that the crowd was growing in intensity, the police called for back-up. Assistant Commissioner (Operations) Oswyn Allard supervised the security arrangements at the courthouse. Despite the presence of the senior officers, the "Guardians of Islam" members attempted to show their force to all present, challenging the police. One member gave orders and the others followed, even if it meant contradicting the orders of the police. When the police officer shouted "go back please," the leader of the Muslimeen group responded "one step back." When the police officer walked away, the response was "one step forward." Very soon it became uncomfortable for those who gathered in the corridor, including members of the media. Three members of the Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) soon emerged "armed to the teeth" as if to show that the police were in charge. Members of the newly-formed Judiciary Security Unit under Cyril Bernard, were also present, giving support to the MTS guards who were carrying out searches at the entrance. Bakr arrived shortly after 9 am, but was caught up with the crowd in the corridor. Magistrate Melvin Daniel decided to adjourn all cases listed in 4B Court. When he left, it was a mad scramble for seats in the court to hear Bakrís matter and the inquest into the death of 11-year-old Akiel Chambers. Seats soon became a premium in the courtroom. Three of Bakrís wives and one of his sons were present to hear the matter. When Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls appeared at 9.50 am, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Carla Brown-Antoine, leading State attorney George Busby, announced that the State was ready to proceed.

Pamela Elder announced that she and Owen Hinds Jr were representing the accused. Elder said she was surprised that the State was ready to proceed and wondered if they were ready for "prosecution or persecution." She said she received copies of statements given by Brent Miller and Salim Rasheed, but pleaded for full disclosure. Elder wondered whether the mystery virus which hit the office of the DPP recently had affected the way the State department did things. Elder produced a letter to the DPPís office in which she asked for 17 items relating to full disclosure. There was some argument between Elder and Brown-Antoine over the readiness to deal with the matter. When the Chief Magistrate ruled that the preliminary inquiry would proceed, Elder asked for some time to consult with Bakr to determine whether she should formally withdraw from the case. On the resumption, Elder said she was remaining in the case. Brown-Antoine then announced that Brent Miller was going to be the first prosecution witness. At that point, one could hear a pin drop. Chief Magistrate Mc Nicolls then read the charge to Bakr, that he, and David Maillard, also called "Buffy" on June 4, 2003 at Citrine Drive, Diamond Vale, Diego Martin, conspired with others to murder Salim Rasheed and Zaki Aubiah, two expelled members of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen. Bakr was not called upon to plead and the first witness was called. Miller, also known as "Big Brent" and "Fatboy," took the witness stand before a full courtroom. Dressed in a blue short sleeved shirt and blue jeans, Miller spent most of the day in the witness box while the accused sat in the dock in a cream outfit and bluish fez. When the case ended just before 4 pm, Miller was still giving evidence-in-Chief. Hearing was adjourned to October 7. St Vincent Street leading to the courthouse remained blocked for most of the day until Bakr and his supporters left. Miller was secretly whisked away to an unknown destination under heavy police escort.

Messages In This Thread

Jamaat Member vs Bakr
Cops detain four Jamaat members
Jamaat lockdown *LINK*
Confessions of a state witness
Preliminary Inquiry into Abu Bakr's case
Trinidad and Tobago News

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