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Moslems Charged with Murder, Treason

August 15, 1990

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) _ Authorities have charged a Moslem leader with murder and treason and also charged more than 100 followers captured after their failed coup attempt last month, a police official said.

Murder and treason both carry the death penalty in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago.

Yasin Abu Bakr, the leader, was charged with 20 crimes, including eight counts of murder in the six-day coup attempt, Assistant Police Commissioner Selwyn Headley said Tuesday.

Abu Bakr and his 113 followers were charged with treason, among other charges, Headley said. The charges were read to the prisoners at the government warehouse on the outskirts of Port-of-Spain where they were being held.

On July 27, the rebels stormed Parliament and a government-owned television station, taking about 50 hostages, including Prime Minister Arthur N.R. Robinson and most of his Cabinet. The government said 24 people were killed in the coup attempt and subsequent looting.

Abu Bakr, a policeman who converted to Islam, had demanded the resignation of Robinson, blaming him for widespread poverty in this once oil-producing two-island nation of 1.3 million off the Venezuelan coast.

He and his fellow rebels eventually surrendered unconditionally and released their hostages.

A preliminary hearing for the 114 Moslems is scheduled for Aug. 23.

A curfew and a state of emergency, giving police the right to arrest and search suspects without a warrant, remains in effect.

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