Khan: Bakr scared me
By JADA LOUTOO Friday, June 29 2012
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Bro Noble Khan...
FORMER Independent Senator and president of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) Bro Nobel Khan yesterday defended himself and his former parliamentary colleague Dana Seetahal SC, saying neither of them were, “PNM Senators masquerading as Independent Senators”, during their time in the Senate.
Khan’s defence came during his testimony at the sedition trial of Jamaat al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr in the Port-of-Spain Third Criminal Court yesterday, in which he admitted being afraid and traumatised by Bakr’s Eid sermon out of which, the sedition charges arose. Bakr’s lead attorney Wayne Sturge launched his attack on Khan, enquiring of his relationship with Seetahal (who incidentally is prosecuting Bakr at this trial) and former Attorney General John Jeremie.
Khan, Seetahal and Jeremie all served in the Upper House from October 17, 2002 to September 28, 2007, with the latter being a PNM Government senator.
“You never spoke out against the PNM in the Senate,” Sturge put to Khan, who said he could not recall his actions while in the Senate and would have to check parliament records.
But he disagreed with Sturge’s assertion that he was, “a PNM Senator masquerading as an Independent Senator.”
“I did not tow the line. I was not an additional PNM Senator,” Khan said. He also said the same of Seetahal. There were several objections to Sturge’s cross-examination, the last of which led to the jury being sent to the jury room to facilitate submissions by counsel.
Last week, Sturge put forward the suggestion of alleged political interference involving Bakr’s criminal prosecution by Jeremie. He also suggested during previous testimony of CNC3 broadcast journalist Sampson Nanton that there was public acrimony between former prime minister Patrick Manning and Bakr.
Bakr is before Justice Mark Mohammed in the Port-of-Spain Third Criminal Court, on a four-count indictment of communicating a statement with seditious intent; provoking a breach of the peace; and two charges of inciting others to demand money by menace arising out of his November 4, 2005 Eid sermon.
Khan said he was shocked and very traumatised when he listened to the 7 pm news and heard his name called as one of the persons Bakr had intended to collect Zakat from. “Abu Bakr indicated that next year Zakat will be collected and everyone will have to pay.
“People from his Jamaat would be collecting Zakat... And if they don’t pay they will have to change their religion. I was very scared and fearful.
“If you do not want to pay they would take it. My name was called. He (Bakr) said, ‘We’d be going by him and if he doesn’t pay, take it from him’,” Khan said in his evidence-in-chief, led by prosecutor Renuka Rambhajan. The trial continues today.