Former prime minister and president of the Republic, Arthur NR Robinson, said it did not occur to him to ask former prime minister, Patrick Manning, to set up a commission of enquiry into the 1990 coup attempt because he was, in some way, implicated in the matter. Robinson made the disclosure while giving evidence before the commission of enquiry into the coup d'etat for the second day at the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday. Robinson said he had no "hard evidence" concerning Manning's implication in the coup attempt but it was reported to him in such a manner that he thinks it should be taken seriously.
Robinson said it had been reported in many circles that the absence of Manning from Parliament on the day of the coup attempt and his subsequent conduct and association with the Muslimeen gave rise to questions. Noting that the ongoing commission would bear fruit, he said: "Indications are it is already bearing fruit." Asked if he ever had any discussions with Manning or former prime minister and opposition leader, Basdeo Panday, on their absence from Parliament on July 27, 1990, and other related matters, Robinson said he felt it would have been received with hostility.
He told the commission: "The question should be asked of both honourable gentlemen." Responding to a question on whether there was PNM animosity against the NAR government, Robinson said there were calls for the resignation of former national security minister, Selwyn Richardson, who was one of the Muslimeen's targets in the Red House hostage crisis. He said animousity had been created in certain sections of the national community and there were calls for Richardson's resignation because he was a principal campaigner in the NAR's anti-corruption programme. Robinson said there had been 30 years of corruption in the country and evidence was being disclosed. Richardson was murdered not long after the attempted coup, he said.
Robinson said Muslimeen leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, objected to his statement in Parliament before the coup attempt that a certain amount of money would be apportioned in memory of Gene Miles in assisting in the exposure of corruption taking place for many years and which was covered over. Miles had testified at a commission of enquiry many years ago into the award of gas station franchises.
Reported to have an amorous relationship with former PNM government minister, Johnny O' Halloran, the man at the centre of the corruption scandal, Miles received information which exposed corrupt practices.
She was reportedly afterward ridiculed and treated with scorn until her death. Robinson said he understood that Bakr said one of the reasons he had attempted to overthrow the NAR government was because of the proposal to honour Miles. "It's rather strange that Abu Bakr, who said he was against corruption, would have opposed the exposure of corruption in Parliament in such a violent manner."
Responding to a question, Robinson also said, as an observer, there was a likelihood that the expulsion of members of the NAR government who later formed the UNC had some relation to the July 27, 1990, coup attempt.
He said he certainly got the impression that former NAR government minister, John Humphrey, who later became a member of the breakaway UNC faction, was co-operating with both sides during the Red House crisis. "On occasions when things needed to be done, both Humphrey and the Muslimeen would engineer my assistance," Robinson said. He said he felt the Privy Council ruling stating that there should be no further prosecution of the Muslimeen insurgents was somewhat insensitive. "I didn't feel if it happened in the United Kingdom, the court in the UK would let the offenders go free in such a manner.
Robinson, however, noted that the Privy Council was the highest court in T&T and "we would never seek to reverse the decision by our courts of Parliament. "We have respect for the law and the courts that uphold the law." Robinson gives evidence again next Wednesday at 10.30 am.
Daughter of Red House fatality gives evidence , Gillian Teague-Weekes, daughter of Mervyn Nicholas Teague, who was killed in the Red House during the uprising, gave evidence to the commission yesterday. Teague, a then Government Broadcasting Unit audio technician was shot on the steps of the Red House. Teague-Williams said her father's death left her mother emotionally and financially devastated. She said her mother rents a Housing Development Corporation house and lives off a meagre pension. Teague-Williams said she assists her mother and she wanted the Government to give her mother a house and help her (Teague-Williams) get a job.