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Coup enquiry head on false credential allegations
Sir David Simmons, chairman of the commission of enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup, has described reports that commissioner Dr Hafizool Mohammed has false credentials as “very serious allegations.” The 14th session of the enquiry began yesterday at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Port-of-Spain, with Mohammed’s seat left empty.
Simmons, in a short statement at the start, said Mohammed asked to be excused from yesterday’s and today’s sitting in order to seek legal advice. He said Mohammed met with members of the commission yesterday morning and asked for time to seek legal assistance on how he should respond to “allegations of a very serious nature” that appeared in the Sunday Guardian.
Simmons said: “The time will come when he will give his side and his response to the allegations. I think it’s fair he be given the opportunity to prepare a response with legal assistance.” Simmons, who is listed as a reference on Mohammed’s curriculum vitae (CV), said no more on the matter. The Sunday Guardian reported that Mohammed obtained his doctorate of science in international relations from Atlantic International University, described as a diploma mill.
He admitted to the reporter he knew the university was not accredited. Yesterday’s T&T Guardian reported discrepancies in his CV, including listing as referees the late Sir Ellis Clarke and a non-existent president of Turkey. Concerning enquiry matters, Simmons said the commission had asked for representatives of the Fire Services and Customs Department to give evidence but they were not included in the list of witnesses for the session.
Commission lead counsel Avory Sinanan, responding, said that matter was still being pursued. He said the Fire Services do not have records dating back to the July 1990 insurrection, there had been a “changing of the guard” at the services and those there now did not have information about the attempted overthrow of the government. He promised he would try to get a Fire Services representative to give evidence in the session.
As for Customs, he said it was a little more difficult to get someone from that department to testify and bureaucratic intervention was needed for Customs to prepare a witness statement. Former acting clerk of the House of Representatives Raphael Cumberbatch will testify today.
Gary Griffith, national security adviser to the Prime Minister, returns to the session to give evidence in camera on national security matters. Dr Brinsley Samaroo, a government minister in 1990, will tell how the US assisted during and after the event.
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