Newsday was reliably informed yesterday that on July 13, a letter was hand delivered to Mohammed by an attorney in the matter. At that point in time, Mohammed indicated to the court they were in receipt of a letter of a certain nature and its purpose and origin were being investigated. However, the High Court judge left the matter at that.
Newsday was informed this letter contained Arabic quotes, and declared in a loose fashion that there would be consequences if Bakr was not freed by the courts.
On August 7, last, a man reportedly entered the Port-of-Spain High Court and told court marshals they should fear for their lives, before delivering another letter. Almost immediately, a decision was made by Mohammed to have the jurors in the matter sequestered to ensure their safety during the continuation of the trial against Bakr.
At the time, the jury was not told why this decision was made, only that the decision was solely his, and had nothing to do with the defence, or the prosecution. Mohammed then reminded jurors that jury service was a civil duty which required some level of sacrifice, and the trial continued. Another report was made to the Port-of-Spain CID, and Newsday was informed a team of police officers including ASP Ajith Persad was appointed to investigate the letters and the source of their origin.On Thursday, Mohammed was forced to order a retrial after a nine-member jury failed to arrive at a verdict following five and a half hours of deliberations at the close of the trial.
Bakr, also known as Lennox Phillip, of La Puerta, Diego Martin, is on a four-count indictment of communicating a statement with seditious intent; provoking a breach of the peace; and inciting others to demand money by menace.
The charges arose from statements Bakr made during his Eid-ul-Fitr sermon at his Mucurapo mosque on November 4, 2005.
The charges against Bakr arose from his hour-long sermon to his followers in which he focussed on Zakat — the tax paid on personal wealth by Muslims — which according to the Jamaat leader was the third pillar of Islam.
Bakr told his followers at the mosque, he was going to initiate a programme to get all Muslims to pay Zakat, and it was this statement which has been viewed by the prosecution as being seditious in its intent.
Dana Seetahal, SC, led Renuka Rambhajan and Shelly Ann Gajadhar for the prosecution while Wayne Sturge, Hasine Sheik and Naveen Maraj defended Bakr at his trial.