Fresh evidence presented to the Integrity Commission has prompted it to reopen an investigation into People’s National Movement Chief Whip Marlene McDonald.
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PM ups reward ante by $2.5m
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar “upped the ante” last night offering a whopping total reward of $3.5 million for information leading to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the killer/killers of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal. Persad-Bissessar made the announcement while speaking with journalists following an emergency meeting of the National Security Council on the 18th floor of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, Chancery Lane, San Fernando.
The Prime Minister said Government had committed a $2.5 million reward, in addition to the $1 million reward being offered by Crime Stoppers, for information leading to the arrest of Seetahal’s killers. Describing the increased reward as “upping the ante,” Persad-Bissessar said the further incentive is to get “human evidence, persons to come forward.” She said the reward would be raised by $2.5 million with respect to arrest prosecution and conviction of the killers. “It is all very well to get the information, to get the intelligence but what is important is to sustain whatever comes forward and so $1 million with respect to information leading to arrest and prosecution and $2.5 million leading to arrest, prosecution and conviction,” she said.
Within hours of Seetahal’s killing on Sunday morning Crime Stoppers announced the $1 million reward, which was the highest amount ever offered by the organisation. Persad-Bissessar said priority had been given to the investigation into Seetahal’s murder because “we see it as a direct attack on someone who has operated within the criminal justice system and therefore it goes far beyond and the reach of our country, the functioning of our nation.” Persad-Bissessar declined to give details of the briefing that Police Commissioner Stephen Williams presented to the National Security Council in their meeting, which began at 5.10 pm and resumed after the half-an-hour media briefing at 6.20 pm.
She said: “It would be foolhardy and reckless on our part and while it might appear that we do not want to give you specifics, it is the right thing to do at this time and at this stage of the investigation. We do not jeopardise and prejudice the workings of the Police Service and the other partner agencies.” Persad-Bissessar confirmed that security has been provided to certain individuals within the criminal justice system and she would be meeting with Chief Justice Ivor Archie on security concerns within the Judiciary and criminal justice reform. She said there was no evidence to suggest that any further high-profile figures were being targeted by criminal elements.
Persad-Bissessar said Seetahal’s murder was “dastardly” and “we need to get to the bottom of it and apprehend those killers as soon as possible.” Williams, who also addressed the media, said a “big team” of investigators had been convened to give priority to investigating Seetahal’s murder. He added: “We have been progressing. There is clear, obvious and good signs to the investigation and we want to give the public the clear assurance that the police will be doing every thing possible to ensure that this investigation is completed within the shortest period of time.” He cautioned the media about its reporting of the investigation and said no panel van was linked to Seetahal’s murder. Initial reports suggested that Seetahal’s car was blocked by two vehicles before her attackers opened fire on her. Williams said those reports were inaccurate. He said the Police Service would hold media briefings to update citizens on the investigation into Seetahal’s murder.