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State opens case against Bakr on June 12
The State will open its case next Tuesday against Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr in relation to four criminal charges, including sedition. The opening of the case comes after weeks of jury selection, which saw more than 1,000 potential jurors being summoned and interviewed at the Port-of-Spain High Court for participation in the trial.
During yesterday’s session, a sixth alternate juror was chosen after questioning from presiding judge Mark Mohammed, special prosecutor Dana Seetahal, SC, and Bakr’s defence attorney Wayne Sturge. The juror joins 14 others who will sit on the nine-member jury with six alternates.
Before being selected the jurors were questioned about their educational background and their ability to adjudicate over the trial without prejudice to Bakr. Bakr, also known as Lennox Phillip, faces four charges in relation to an Eid sermon which was delivered at the Jamaat’s Mucurapo Road, St James mosque in November 2005.
The charges are: communicating a statement with seditious intention; endeavouring to provoke a breach of the peace; and two charges of inciting others to demand money by menace. Since undergoing surgery to his ankle earlier this year, Bakr has attended every hearing in the jury-selection process.
Bakr, who suffers from diabetes, has been allowed to keep his leg elevated on a chair with a cushion during his appearances in the Port-of-Spain Third Criminal Court. At a previous hearing, earlier this week, Mohammed told jurors that they would not be sequestered during the trial, which he said is not expected to last more than a month. Bakr’s legal team includes attorneys Naveen Maraj and Viveka Pargass, while state prosecutor Renuka Rambhajan will appear alongside Seetahal.
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