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Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Panday claims 1990 set stage for today’s lawlessness
The attempted July 27, 1990 insurrection by the Jamaat al Muslimeen laid the foundation for the callous and vicious crime wave the country is experiencing today. This was the testimony of former prime minister Basdeo Panday at the commission of enquiry into the attempted coup, at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. Panday, who began his testimony last Friday, concluded his evidence yesterday. He alleged that some members of the Jamaat were hired by certain businessmen to “collect debts.” Lead attorney to the commission Avory Sinanan, SC asked Panday whether the breakdown of law and order in today’s society had any roots in 1990.
In response Panday said, “I’m sure it did. The Jamaat who had taken part in the attempted coup were actually hired by businessmen to collect debts. “The people from the Jamaat were hired because of their muscle.” Panday said he believed there was a case pending before the court in which someone was forced to sign a deed at gunpoint. The coup attempt, he said, “did set the stage for lawlessness and it was encouraged by certain sections of the community that hired them, because they thought that if you sent someone in jail for a debt, that process was taking too long. “The shorter method was to hire people from the Jamaat to collect it for you,” Panday added. On the issue of closure Sinanan said a lot of people felt emotionally scarred by the events of 1990.
Asked how closure could be achieved, Panday said, “Death is the most common phenomenon known to man and the least to which he has grown accustomed (sic). “There is nothing you can do to undo the past. You can’t undo those things that have already been done. We must go forward.” He reiterated it would be dangerous for Jamaat members to be discriminated against. On what lesson could be learnt from the attempted coup Panday said one of the biggest problems was the management of funds as there were limited resources which would not satisfy all the wants of a country. Saying he did not believe in the death penalty Panday said he was not sure whether carrying out executions would reduce crime. “I do not know if by carrying out the death penalty during the term we were in office, whether that had any influence in bringing crime down. I wish there could be more research into that matter,” Panday said. GK
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