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BAKR BACK IN JAIL

Charged with murder

By Rickie Ramdass rickie.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

LEADER of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen Yasin Abu Bakr has been charged with murder.

Bakr and Brent "Big Brent" Miller were charged yesterday with the murder of Maraval resident Israel Sammy in 1998, following a coroner's inquest into his death.

Miller was Bakr's main accuser in the charge of conspiracy to murder two former Jamaat members, but his evidence was deemed to be unreliable by then High Court judge Mustapha Ibrahim in 2006.

Coroner Nalini Singh, in her ruling in the Port of Spain Magistrates' Court at 11.45 a.m. yesterday, said she found there was sufficient evidence for both men to be charged with Sammy's killing.

Both Bakr, leader of the 1990 attempted coup, and Miller were in court when the ruling was handed down. They voluntarily entered the prisoners' dock before they were taken away in a police vehicle to the Port of Spain Criminal Investigations Department (CID) where the charges were laid by Acting Supt Baldeo.

At 2.35 p.m., Bakr and Miller returned to the courthouse as heavily armed police officers stood guard along St Vincent Street where the court is located. Vehicular traffic was brought to a halt while pedestrians and media personnel were ordered to the other side of the road.

Less than five minutes after arriving, the two appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in the Eighth Court where other heavily armed officers were present. The charges were read.

Defence attorney Larry Williams, who represented Miller, told the court he was "ready and anxious to proceed with the matter", and he would be contacting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard for information in relation to what direction the matter would go.

Former DPP Geoffrey Henderson, he said, had indicated the State could not proceed with the Sammy matter against Miller, based on the statements he had given to officers investigating that killing.

The inquest into Sammy's death began on February 2, 2009, with Bakr first appearing before Singh on February 6. Thirteen witnesses, including Louisa Sammy, the mother of the dead man, had testified. She, along with WPC Bacchus of the Port of Spain CID, was cross-examined by Williams yesterday before Singh gave the ruling.

Bakr had hired Senior Counsel Pamela Elder as his attorney, following the advice of Singh to obtain an attorney. Elder chose not to cross-examine either Sammy or Bacchus, who were called by Williams. She also did not make any closing submissions yesterday.

Sammy, 22, a mechanic of Dacca Street, Boisierre Village, Maraval, was taken from his home by masked men around 2 a.m. on May 20, 1998. He was beaten in the road and shot dead behind his home.

The two accused were taken into prison custody at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca and will return to court before Ayers-Caesar on October 6.

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