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AG as Senate pays tribute: She refused security in Jamaat case
Slain Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal, who undertook the State’s action on Jamaat al Muslimeen properties, had refused security offered to her, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has said. Speaking in Tuesday’s Senate tributes to Seetahal, Ramlogan said she was the special state prosecutor who represented the people in the battle with the Muslimeen for just recompense arising out of the 1990 coup attempt.
He said when he implemented the court order regarding the sale of the Jamaat properties there were few lawyers prepared to take the security risks at personal and professional levels and she was one of the few who responded positively. Ramlogan added: “I asked her about it, noting there were security concerns and if she took it on she would require security. “She said: ‘No, I am my own security, AG, I don’t want anybody. I’ll deal with this matter.’ That was the nature and essence of the person.”
Saying he was heartbroken at her death, Ramlogan described Seetahal as “a fallen daughter of our soil whose professional achievements, as well as her personal life, have been a shining example of all that is good in T&T...a woman of unquestionable character and integrity. “She was a woman whom I respected and admired, a role model and a source of immeasurable inspiration for those whose lives she had touched.”
He said the sight of her client, soca star Machel Montano, weeping at the spot where she was murdered, showed the type of relationship she had with the people she represented. He said Seetahal walked many roads in her life, enjoying a legal career spanning some 35 years, with “a unique sense of public service, grounded in her inimitable Trinbagonian style which endeared her to everyone, even people who had never met her feel this loss and grieve for her.”
Ramlogan said his ministry had lost a critical support as Seetahal was assisting him with important and sensitive work on a number of legislative measures to help with the fight against crime and improving the administration of justice. He added: “She was instrumental in the new law to abolish preliminary inquiries and changes to the DNA Act. Just over one week ago, she helped us organise a workshop on plea bargaining with experts from the US.”
He said Seetahal was committed to that idea as it would have broken up the criminal justice system’s logjam. He added: “She was fearless in expressing her opinion in a rational, reasonable and non-political manner. “Guided by her perceptions of what was right or just, she never took the path of least resistance or supported a view simply because it was the popular one. “She wasn’t afraid to stand alone, if need be, for what she believed in. As an Independent senator, she assumed a proactive and leadership role.
“T&T is poorer today for the passing of Dana Seetahal, these are extremely big shoes to fill. She was one of a kind,” he said.
Other senate tributes
Two other senators have called on T&T to honour the memory of Seetahal by standing defiant in the face of criminality. At Tuesday’s Senate tributes, PNM senator Faris Al-Rawi said Seetahal’s murder last Sunday involved a trigger pointed at not only at Seetahal but also every one in T&T. He said it was a message sent by cowards to those looking after democracy and morality to be afraid and to T&T that there were no boundaries and no one to protect them.
Al-Rawi said Seetahal’s footprints and her legacy were not to accept that act of cowardice or accept that evil triumphed over good. He said citizens should be encouraged by her legacy and example and defy any attempt to ruin democracy and should also redouble resolve to stand up and be counted as she did. He added if there was a single expression of unity, it was in the life Seetahal led. He said at times when they were on opposite sides of cases, behind her wit was “always a beautiful smile.”
“I encourage us all, and Government especially, to work together to bring about the much needed solution to the criminal element which seeks to persuade us they will prevail...but they will never prevail,” Al-Rawi added. Independent senator Rolph Balgobin said: ”She was a diminutive giant, extraordinary intellect with quick wit and acerbic tongue.
“A woman of the law and of peace. T&T may not yet fully appreciate what it has lost. But her passing has made every single citizen significantly poorer. It’s unlikely we will see the likes such as she again. “The most fitting tribute we can give her is not to shrink in fear or retreat in the face of the ghastly horrors. We must find the strength and resolve to rededicate ourselves to the cause for which she gave the ultimate sacrifice, T&T’s advancement.”