Brent ‘Big Brent’ Miller, the State’s main witness in its conspiracy to murder case against Bakr, yesterday admitted once more to the open court presided over by Justice Mustapha Ibrahim in the Port-of-Spain Third Criminal Court, that the immunity agreement he signed with the DPP was “strangling” him. He admitted that he “fraid jail” and dreaded “the thought of the hangman.” Miller was granted an immunity for offences he committed in exchange for testimony in the Bakr case. It also emerged that when Miller had originally testified in the Magistrates’ Court during the preliminary inquiry, he had perjured himself by swearing an oath on the Holy Koran, when he was in fact, a Catholic. Miller admitted under Bakr’s lead counsel Pamela Elder’s questioning that at the time the Holy Koran had “no meaning” to him.
“I knew nothing about it,” he said. And although Miller was once described as the “third in command” of the Jamaat, Elder suggested — he was not even a genuine member of the Jamaat. Elder put to the witness that he wanted his freedom so badly under the terms of the State’s immunity agreement that he was even willing to lie about his religion if that meant his story would have been more believable.
“In fact, Brent Miller, you went so far in the Magistrates’ Court as to put aside your religion as a Roman Catholic and profess you were a Muslim,” she said. The day’s lengthy questioning of the witness quickly turned into a series of exchanges in which Miller would be questioned by Elder, deny her accusations claiming that he could not “remember” and then have to be reminded of what he had said before in the Magistrates’ Court by having the official court transcript read to him.
Whenever the transcript was read to him, he would then retract his original denial and then agree with Elder. At some points during this questioning, Elder had to constantly remind the witness that honest answers to her questions would not affect his immunity.
Lead prosecutor Sir Timothy Cassell QC had on Wednesday warned the jury about Miller’s credibility.
The Court further heard how Miller was a prolific criminal, having admitted to the Office of the DPP that he had been involved with the kidnapping of at least two persons, was once a bandit and thief, had illegally possessed firearms — including an AK47 that was brought into the Court by Elder, and had also “dealt with” cocaine. “I want the jury to know the kind of person the DPP immunised without finding out if his statements (about the alleged Bakr conspiracy) were true,” Elder said. Elder went on to draw from the witness a barrage of procedural improprieties that took place surrounding his signing of a witness statement in exchange for immunity. It emerged that Miller had signed the statement without being able to read and that when he had gone to the DPP’s office on the day he signed his immunity agreement, no one asked him about the conditions under which he had signed the statement, no one asked him if he could read, no one asked him about crucial details that were contained in his statements.
Elder exchanged glances with the DPP, Geoffrey Henderson, as he sat in court. Near the end of the day’s session, Justice Ibrahim asked Elder how much longer she would take with the witness and she replied, “I have only just begun, my lord.”
Bakr, 65, of La Puerta Avenue, Diego Martin, is charged with conspiring on June 4, 2003 at Citrine Drive, Diamond Vale, Diego Martin with David “Buffy” Millard and others to murder former Jamaat members Salim Rasheed and Zaki Aubidah. The conspiracy was allegedly the start of events that culminated with the shooting of Rasheed and the death of Gilla Bowen at Movietowne, Mucurapo, on the night of June 4, 2003. The matter continues on Monday.