Ten days after three murder accused prisoners staged a daring escape from the Port-of-Spain State Prison, the only surviving member of the trio was taken to court yesterday to answer ten charges...
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Siblings struggle with emotion
Seetahal’s sister, Susan Francois, who delivered the eulogy, read a tribute to Seetahal sent by her colleague of many years, former DPP Geoffrey Henderson, who is now a judge at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Francois said Henderson was extremely close to Seetahal and had sent the tribute, entitled “A National Treasure”. Henderson, in the tribute read by Francois, stated that Seetahal had a deep love of T&T and a huge desire to give back to T&T and make it a better place. “She loved public service,” Henderson stated. He said Seetahal had done a lot of work for the DPP’s office at peppercorn rates and had mentored lawyers, young and older, and shared her experience freely. “We marvelled at her tremendous work ethic... she was formidable in court,” he said.
Henderson said when Seetahal took “silk”, assumed the status of senior counsel, none questioned the decision and many thought it should have been given sooner. “Dana’s silk was true silk,” Henderson noted. His tribute noted Seetahal was also a good resource to the Caricom criminal justice system. Henderson said Seetahal had loved writing the newspaper columns she did and gave careful thought to each and their selection, clarifying complex issues and those which were obfuscated by others. He said her nickname was “Seets” and though sometime rough, she didn’t have a bad bone in her body. “She was honest, loyal, fair and fearlesss. Her murder by gutless cowards has left a deep void,” Henderson said, adding Seetahal’s parents had given T&T a national treasure.
Francois, after concluding Henderson’s tribute, said up to last Sunday morning she had five sisters, “Now I have four.” Saying Seetahal was the family’s guiding light, Francois added: “I can speak words of the loss and devastation we feel but they would be woefully inadequate. “We will shed tears that she has gone, but we will smile because she has lived. We will open our eyes and see all she has left and we will cherish her memory and let it live on.” Francois, though looking strained, maintained her composure through the delivery. But when Francois concluded her contribution in a slightly shaky voice, “Go with God, my sister ...,” her bespectacled brother in the pew behind hers, broke down and held his head in his hands. Seetahal’s law school mate, Merlin Boyce, elicited smiles when she related how Seetahal enjoyed facials, designer clothes and hair styling.
Boyce spoke about how both might have ended up at the Red House on July 27, 1990 to see former schoolmate Joseph Toney, but Seetahal had said the Parliament was “too boring...”
Rev Daniel Teelucksingh, delivering a stirring sermon, elicited nods including from the Chief Justice Ivor Archie when he said: “T&T is no easy place to govern.” Also on the programme were prayers by RC priest Fr Clyde Harvey and Pundit Rhandir Maharaj. Attendees comprised a who’s who of the legal, political and law enforcement hierarchy. Among the PP and PNM leaders were Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith, former president George Maxwell Richards, Foreign Affairs Minister (Tunapuna MP) Winston Dookeran, Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie, National Security Minister Gary Griffith, acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, PCA head Gillian Lucky, UWI principal Clement Sankat, Justice Vashist Kokaram, attorney Martin Daly, PNM’s Dr Keith Rowley, Amery Browne, Nafeesa Mohammed and others.