As the commission of enquiry into the July 1990 attempted coup continued yesterday, chairman David Simmons, SC, asked former parliamentary secretary Rawle Raphael if he abdicated his responsibility when he failed to inform the Government about plans by the Jamaat al Muslimeen to overthrow NAR government.Raphael, former MP for Arouca North, continued his testimony at the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday.
He was one of the hostages at the Red House during the bloody attempted coup, which claimed more than 20 lives.Raphael confirmed that he was told of the planned insurrection by a member of the party's A Team of the plot to overthrow his Government. He said he then advised the official to report the plot to National Security Minister Selwyn Richardson.
Raphael told the Commission that he did not take the threat seriously.Simmons asked Raphael if he didn't "find it strange that for the second time this man was raising the possibility of trouble with you (talk of attempted coup)."Raphael responded said that many callers to local radio stations yesterday shared his view that such an incident could not have happened in T&T.
"Everybody think that (the threat) was a big joke, as well as me," Raphael insisted.Simmons continued: "It was not possible? God is a Trinidadian?"Raphael responded: "Well, some of us think so."Simmons then reminded Raphael that "you were holding a responsible position as a Member of Parliament. You think that you should have been so dismissive of this information?"Raphael said again that the information "was passed on to the Minister of National Security."
Reminded that he was the first source of the information, Raphael was asked if he did any follow-up.He said : "No, I never followed up."A seemingly amazed Simmons responded: "Never followed up? After 20 years does your conscience bother you at all that you may have been neglectful of your responsibilities?"
Raphael quickly responded: "Not really."Simmons then remarked: "Not really?He then asked Raphael if he maintained the same position of it being a joke when the Muslimeen official told him of plans to overthrow the Government, for the third time, on July 27, 1990.Raphael responded: "Certainly."Asked if he had ever reflected over the past 20 years to determine if he had done the right thing, Raphael said: "No, it would have brought back old memories and one has to get away from bad incidents that happened in the past and look forward to what is in the future."
He said he never liked to return to the past, especially on negative issues.Simmons then asked Raphael if he didn't hold himself in any way culpable for what happened."Certainly not, " Raphael said.Simmons then questioned Raphael about the Black Power uprising in 1970. He wanted to know if the country had learned anything from that incident. Raphael said: No, it was a good experience for Trinidadians."He said people of different ethnic groups were able to gain employment at certain institutions because of the uprising.