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PM: Direct attack on criminal justice system

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, centre, greets acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, right, at the National Security Council meeting at San Fernando Teaching Facility, Chancery Lane, San Fernando, on Monday. At left are Minister of National Security Gary Griffith and Trade and Communications Minister Vasant Bharath. Photo RISHI RAGOONATH

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Monday night defended the emphasis and priority being placed on the police investigation into the assassination of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal. “It is vital, in terms of the institutions of state,” Persad-Bissessar said, as she addressed the media after an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) in San Fernando. Persad-Bissessar, who is chairman of the NSC, said: “Everyone who is murdered is a pain and loss to every single one of us.”



However, she said Seetahal’s murder was seen as a “direct attack” on someone who had operated within the criminal justice system. Seetahal was assassinated on Sunday morning as she made her way to her Wookbrook home. She was ambushed by attackers along Hamilton Holder Street, Woodbrook. Persad-Bissessar said Seetahal’s murder went far beyond the reach of T&T and “the functioning of our nation and the functioning of our people.”


She said the Government has offered acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams all the resources he and his team required for the investigation. “Should they require the use of foreign expertise in this investigation the Government has offered to provide the resources that may be necessary for such expertise to be utilised by the Commissioner of Police and his team,” she added.


The Prime Minister said Williams had agreed to consider the aspects of social media that could be utilised and have further discussions with the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard on whether, apart from print and electronic media, investigators could go further in using social media. Both the Prime Minister and Williams called for witnesses to Seetahal’s assassination to come forward and help.


Williams said the police had been receiving information and “extensive co-operation” from citizens, “which is a very positive sign that the citizens are partnering with the Police Service towards addressing the investigation.” Williams said the police were on top of the investigation and were using all available resources to speed it up. The Prime Minister said the commissioner had briefed the NSC on the technological aspects and video evidence in the investigation. 


“At the moment, the intelligence is being analysed to provide the evidential basis to lead to an arrest or arrests and thereafter to sustain a prosecution to lead to a conviction. So they have advised us that they are working on that aspect, the science and technology aspect,” she said. Persad-Bissessar dismissed statements comparing T&T to Colombia after Seetahal’s murder.


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