Friday, February 1, 2013

Gaspard won't charge Bakr for failure to testify at coup probe

File: DPP Roger Gaspard
Roger Gaspard has decided that his office would not lay any charges against Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr for failing to give testimony before the Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has told the commission that it has the legal power to direct the Commissioner of Police to take action against the man who led the 1990 uprising.

In a letter to commission secretary Larraine Lutchmedial the DPP said said it would be "inadvisable, if not punitive" for him to lay charges against Bakr under Section 16 of the Commission of Enquiry Act, which empowers the DPP to take action against anyone refusing to obey a summons to attend the Commission.

The Express newspaper published details from the letter dated January 29, 2013. 

It quoted Gaspard as saying: "I am of the view that given that the refusal of the witness to attend the hearing of the commission or to offer any 'sufficient cause' for doing so, despite being granted additional time to so do, is a matter that the commission should properly deal with in the maintenance of its own authority and protection of its proceedings; the powers of the commission granted under the (Commission of Enquiry) Act being akin to that of a High Court."
File: Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr
The paper said the DPP stated that if he were to take action against Bakr it would give Bakr cause for a stay in the coup leader's retrial for sedition and incitement.

"In those circumstances, it might be considered inadvisable if not punitive were the Director to direct charges for this accused's failure to attend your Commission of Enquiry to testify as to the integral part he played in the very attempted coup," Gaspard said.

Gaspard noted that since Bakr's indictment six years ago Bakr's attorneys have made at least six unsuccessful attempts for the trial to be stayed on the basis of prejudicial pretrial publicity.

"Were I as Director to direct charges to be laid for his failure to attend your particular commission, this itself would likely generate a type of publicity that would necessarily provide additional ammunition in the arsenal of the accused for any such future application, where would be bound to follow," he said.

"In all the circumstances, therefore, I am inclined to the view and I respectfully submit that the commission would be better advised to itself direct the Commissioner of Police to 'commence and prosecute the proceedings' for breach of Section 16," Gaspard stated.

Bakr citing adverse pretrial publicity as the reason for his refusal to testify, arguing that others might want to use his testimony before the commission to his detriment at the sedition trial. He also gave failing health as a reason for his non appearance at the enquiry.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai