On 27 July 1990 Trinidad was shaken by an attempted overthrow of the Government by a Muslim fundamentalist group, the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen, led by the Imam Yasin Abu Bakr. The rebels held the Prime Minister, A N R Robinson, eight of his Cabinet and other hostages, until their unconditional surrender on 1 August.
A total of 23 people were killed in the disturbances and about 500 were injured (including the Prime Minister) during the bombing of the police headquarters, the takeover of the parliament building and TV station and subsequent rioting. Despite a promise of an amnesty, 114 Jamaat members were arrested and charged with offences including murder and treason. After taking their case to the courts their appeal was heard in 1992 and the amnesty was reinstated, leading to the release of prisoners. The Government’s appeal against the decision was turned down by the High Court in 1993. It then turned to the Privy Council, which heard its case in 1994. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ruled that the amnesty was not valid, because the Muslimeen breached its conditions when they continued to hold hostages and make demands for four days after the amnesty was granted instead of ending their insurrection immediately. The Muslimeen will therefore receive no compensation for wrongful imprisonment but neither can they be rearrested and charged for offences committed during their rebellion.