Tue | Dec 6, 2016

Abu Bakr case being politicised -- Bunting

Published:Thursday | October 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM

NATIONAL SECURITY Minister Peter Bunting has blasted the parliamentary opposition for nitpicking and using the Yasin Abu Bakr's $4 million deportation cost to seek to score political points.

"Heavy weather is being made of this money that is spent," Bunting said.

He told legislators that the Government intends to spend less than $8 million this year in deporting people like Abu Bakr, Bunting said, noting that the expenditure is less than the nearly $9 million spent in 2011, the last year of the Jamaica Labour Party administration.

"We are operating within a budget that you spent almost three years ago doing the same thing," Bunting said.

truth of the matter

The national security minister said "the Opposition can't have it both ways: on the one hand, they say we must be decisive, and on the other hand, they say we rush and make the decision".

"The truth of the matter is that whatever we do, they are going to nitpick it. They are going to continue to try get political mileage from it. In our judgement, we took decisive action. We think it is in the interest of protecting national security and we stand by it".

Bunting likened the money to a home insurance policy which appears to be a waste if there is no disaster, but a cover in the event of destruction.

While conceding the sum is significant, Bunting said it pales in comparison to what a terrorist in Jamaica would have cost.

"He was looking an opportunity to become some sort of cause celeb," Bunting said, while pointing to the behaviour of the Muslim group leader after being denied entry.

Bunting said Abu Bakr refused to be seated when he was escorted to a waiting Caribbean Airlines aircraft.

He said the Trinidadian refused to be seated in the economy section of the plane and that it would be a breach of security protocol to have him seated in the business or first class area of the aircraft.

creating a scene

"Non-compliance and unruliness was an obstacle to his travel on commercial, and in fact most private-chartered aircraft would not take a non-compliant individual," Bunting said.

He said further that because Abu Bakr was uncooperative, the packed flight was in danger of being cancelled.

Bunting said Abu Bakr, though in shackles, was fighting and creating a scene, and that "Caribbean Airlines could not have carried him".

He said if Abu Bakr had been landed, the Government's other option was to put him in jail, and under the Treaty of Chaguaramas, he would have an automatic six-month stay.

Daryl Vaz, the MP for West Portland, said instead of going the route of a chartered jet, the Government should have given Abu Bakr the option of travelling back to Trinidad on a single engine JDF aircraft.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com