Last update: 24-Jul-2014 10:21 pm
Friday, July 25, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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PNM wants foreign investigators for probe
People’s National Movement (PNM) public relations officer Faris Al-Rawi says he has no confidence the assassination of Dana Seetahal, SC, will be solved by local law enforcement officers. He is urging Government to bring in foreign help with immediate effect. His comments come in wake of the fact that the police are yet to make a breakthrough in Seetahal’s killing. There have been calls from all sectors of the society for swift action to bring the killers to justice. It has been four days since Seetahal was killed.
Al-Rawi said the basis for the PNM’s lack of confidence in the Police Service lay in the dramatic fall in the detection and conviction rate of murders from 36 per cent to under ten per cent.
He noted: “Other issues which must be taken into consideration are the Police Service’s lack of conclusion in the e-mail gate issue, its lack of conclusion in the $17 million heist and murder of a security guard which took place last November, its lack of conclusion in the importation of chicken well seasoned with marijuana and its lack of conclusion in the matter of cocaine in juice cans.
“The Police Service does not boast of any form of track record which will encourage confidence in the citizens that they are capable of bringing home a conviction in Dana Seetahal’s assassination.” He made it clear his statement was not an attack on police officers but rather a serious criticism of the People’s Partnership Government which was responsible for dismantling all of the country’s security systems in 2010.
“That has left us in a position where I do not have faith this matter would be dealt with without the assistance of foreign expertise. “In the circumstances, I pray that the Government and the country will make available the necessary expertise to bring home a solution in the Seetahal’s assassination and more particular every serious crime,” Al-Rawi said.
He added that Government had refused to accept the PNM’s invitation to amend the law to allow for an immediate appointment of a police commissioner and had refused to conduct a manpower audit of the organisation. He said: “The combination of the Police Service’s dismal record and the Government’s abdication of its role of creating an enabling environment for the Police Service to better itself, left alone to function, equals to a tragic result for T&T.”
UK ready to assist
National Security Minister Gary Griffith says apart from the United States, the United Kingdom also was ready to join with local law enforcement officers to hunt down Seetahal’s killers. However, he reiterated he did not believe it was necessary at this time for T&T to call in foreign help.
He said: “I have spoken to acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams today (yesterday) and we have met with relevant officials through the US embassy. I have also made contact, through the British High Commission, and a specially assigned unit able to support our law enforcement agencies is already on standby.
“But I do not think at this time it is necessary. This is a mammoth investigation. It is not just pinpointing an individual and grabbing the person. You have to look at every single angle.” He said he already had received confidential reports from the intelligence agencies and was hopeful a breakthrough would be made in the quickest possible time. What is more critical, he added, was developing human intelligence where information was passed on to the police from members of the public.
Evidence must stand up
Former assistant director of public prosecutions, attorney Indra Ramoutar-Liverpool, says it was not just a matter of arresting perpetrators but rather getting evidence which could stand up beyond a reasonable doubt in court in the Seetahal case.
“In a criminal case you must have evidence to stand up beyond a reasonable doubt. You have to have witnesses who are willing to come forward and must be afforded some sort of protection.“They also need to bring the matter early to court because if they don’t it will simply die a natural death,” Ramoutar-Liverpool said.
On if she believed the witness protection programme was efficient, she said there were rules which must be followed and in some instances people had been placed in the programme and did not subscribed to the rules.