Bakr freed, but goes back to jail
By FRANCIS JOSEPH
YASIN ABU BAKR, leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, received good and bad news yesterday. The good news was that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) discontinued charges of possession of arms and ammunition laid against him. The bad news was that Bakr was sent back to jail because he was not granted bail after he was committed to stand trial on charges for sedition, incitement and terrorism. Bakr, 64, of La Puerta Road, Diego Martin, was charged last November with Tahir Ali, 19, and Olugemia Abdul Basit, 18, of Old Train Line, Cunupia. They were charged with being in possession of a high-powered sniper rifle; 565 rounds of ammunition, and one hand grenade at the Jamaatís Mucurapo compound on November 10 last year.
When the matter was called in the Port-of-Spain Eighth Magistratesí Court yesterday, Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls informed Bakr that DPP Geoffrey Henderson had filed a notice of discontinuance against Bakr, in accordance with Section 90 of the Constitution. Mc Nicolls informed Bakr that the charges had been discontinued. However, Theodore Guerra SC, a lawyer representing the Jamaat leader, blew fire and brimstone. "This is indicative of the malicious and deliberate abuse and manipulation of the judicial process," Guerra told the court. He continued, "It is a confidence trick played by the prosecutors on the magistrate and the Judiciary in having laid these charges apparently without any evidence. Now that the charges have served the purpose, the prosecutors have come here this morning and withdrew the matter."
Guerra said he remembered Senior Counsel (Douglas Mendes) saying (in the sedition case) that the arms and ammunition found in Bakrís possession were "the means whereby he would have carried out the threat as stated in his Eid speech." Guerra added, "I am appalled at the way the DPP and the prosecutors can trample on the rights of citizens, where they can arrest and deny bail which is your constitutional right. I deplore the behaviour of the prosecutors in this matter, when they can seek to subvert the course of justice by unlawfully arresting a person and using that to deprive him of his liberty."
Guerra said the DPP did not have the courtesy to say why he dropped the charges. Mc Nicolls said the DPP was under no obligation to do so. Guerra responded, "It is the decent thing to do. I would be calling on you for some remedy for this injustice perpetuated against my client." Guerra, leading Pamela Elder SC, said because of this, he asked for fair prosecutors from the very beginning. Mc Nicolls then transferred the case against Basit and Ali to the Fourth Magistratesí Court. After a brief hearing before Magistrate Avason Quinlan, the case was adjourned to February 8. Surrounded by heavily-armed policemen, Bakr was escorted back to the Port-of-Spain State Prison at about 3 pm, where he will remain until his trial.
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