PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Police are investigating a series of threatening letters allegedly delivered to a High Court judge who presided over the sedition trial of Muslim leader Yasin Abu Bakr, the NEWSDAY newspaper reported Monday.
It said that on July 13, a letter was hand delivered to Justice Mark Mohammed by an attorney in the case.
“At that point in time, Mohammed indicated to the court they were in receipt of a letter of a certain nature and its purpose and origin were being investigated,” the newspaper reported, adding that it was informed “this letter contained Arabic quotes, and declared in a loose fashion that there would be consequences if Bakr was not freed by the courts”.
The paper also reported that on August 7, a man reportedly entered the High Court and informed court marshals they should fear for their lives, before delivering another letter.
“Almost immediately, a decision was made by Justice Mohammed to have the jurors in the matter sequestered to ensure their safety during the continuation of the trial against Bakr,” the paper added.
NEWSDAY said that a police team including Assistant Superintendent of Police Ajith Persad has been appointed to investigate the letters and the source of their origin.
Last week, Justice Mohammed ordered a re-trial of the sedition case against Bakr, the leader of the radical Jamaat-Al-Muslimeen group, after the nine-member all female jury failed to reach an unanimous verdict after more than five hours of deliberations.
Bakr, 70, had been charged with communicating a statement having seditious intention, two counts of inciting to demand with menaces with intent to steal and endeavouring to provoke a breach of the peace.
The charges arose out of comments he made during an Eid-ul-Fitr sermon delivered at the compound of the Jamaat-Al-Muslimeen group on November 4, 2005.
During the sermon, Bakr told the congregation that the system of collecting and distributing Zakaat was designed by the Muslim Prophet Muhammad for the purpose of eradicating poverty among the Muslim community.
He said the Muslims in Trinidad were going about the collection and distribution of Zakaat in the wrong way and not in accordance with Allah’s (God’s) instructions.
Bakr said to his membership that Allah promised to provide for them and their children. Bakr said Prophet Muhammad used to designate people to go and collect Zakaat.
His lawyers had argued that the charges were politically motivated but the State countered indicating that no evidence had been brought before the court to support the allegation.
Lead prosecutor, Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal, called on the jurors to stay true to the oath they took to “hearken to the evidence” and nothing else, adding that the defence had raised many matters there were “lies, half-truths and innuendoes”.