Fuad Abu Bakr

Derek Achong

New National Vision political leader Fuad Abu Bakr has been released on $75,000 bail after appearing in court charged with six criminal offences arising out of his alleged role in two recent protests in Port-of-Spain.

Abu Bakr, who was arrested while engaged in a protest against police brutality at Piccadilly Street in Port-of-Spain on Tuesday, was granted bail after making a virtual court appearance before Magistrate Indar Jagroo from the Besson Street Police Station, yesterday afternoon.

Abu Bakr, the son of Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, was slapped with four charges over his role in a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest outside the United States Embassy on June 8 and two charges related to this week’s protests, sparked by the death of three men from Morvant, who were shot dead by police over the weekend.

Abu Bakr was slapped with three charges for assaulting PC Clint Smith and one charge for obstructing Smith from performing his duties at the BLM protest.

According to the summary of evidence, which was disclosed to Abu Bakr’s defence attorneys, he is accused of repeatedly pushing and blocking Smith as he (Smith) was attempting to film the protest.

Ian Smart, the son of former attorney general Anthony Smart, was also captured on video removing Smith’s hat, running away, and raising his middle finger towards Smith, when he attempted to retrieve the item.

Smart apologised after the incident and was interviewed by officers, who were assigned by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to investigate. Guardian Media could not confirm if he too was subsequently charged.

Abu Bakr was also charged with using violent language to incite others to breach the peace at Tuesday’s protest.

Abu Bakr is alleged to have told fellow demonstrators: “All yuh come let’s block the road they can’t stop us, no justice no peace.”

He was jointly charged with east Port-of-Spain residents Jahim Cudjoe, Elijah Riley, and Shaquille James with breaching ongoing COVID-19 public health regulations by gathering in a group larger than 25 persons. The offence carries a maximum penalty of a $50,000 fine and six months in prison.

Abu Bakr pleaded not guilty to all six charges. As part of the conditions of his bail, Abu Bakr was ordered to report to the Belmont Police Station, twice weekly, for the duration of his case.

Abu Bakr’s court appearance came hours after as his lawyers Criston J Williams and Kashif Gibson filed a habeas corpus writ calling on police challenging his lengthy detention without appearing in court. The lawsuit had to be withdrawn after his eventual court appearance.

Abu Bakr is expected to reappear in court on July 30.