Two weeks ago, I wrote what I then felt was a story of hope. Or, perhaps, what I then felt was the story that should be told.
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Pain still raw for Seetahal family
Tomorrow marks 100 days since gunmen snuffed out the life of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal sending a chilling shockwaves of fear across the criminal justice system. The pain over her brutal killing remains raw for many, some of whom never even met her, but followed her fearless commentary and felt empowered by her words. Her family says that true justice for her would be solving not only her murder, but the other 240 unsolved murders that have been recorded for the year.
Seetahal’s sister Susan Francois, the director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, said the family remains “numb in disbelief” and was having difficulties in coping with the loss. “It is 100 days since Dana Saroop Seetahal, our sister and aunt was suddenly and brutally taken from us and her murderers are still free. It is like swallowing a bitter pill. We still ask ourselves why? And will she get the justice she deserves? For us, it is a horrifying nightmare from which we cannot awake.
“Weekends are especially difficult since it was then that she connected with her family and friends through phone calls and visits. As well, it is also difficult having to cope with insensitive remarks such as ‘You having gotten over that yet?’ Does grief a have time limit? For some of us grieving has not even started because the loss is too huge to process emotionally. There is not an hour that passes that we don’t think about her. She was the core of the family.”
Another sister, Marilyn Seetahal, said, “It’s very hard to bear the loss of some dear to you. When you lost a loved one in this way, the sorrow is harder to bear. Thinking of all warm family times we had together I miss her and long for her presence.” Speaking in an interview Seetahal’s nephew Devanan Persad said his aunt strived for equality and justice for all and would have wanted her murder solved with the same expediency as hers.
“She would prefer that everyone got the same level of justice, not just for Dana Seetahal. There are thousands of families mourning. “That is what she fought for, not justice for Dana Seetahal. What my aunt was trying to do was build a fair state and she was taken out militantly.”
Persad recalled that his aunt was a very meticulous person who took a project management course to assist her in scheduling her own life. He added that in one of her diaries Seetahal scheduled a time to chastise one of her nieces, which she did and marked off. “It is totally impossible to move on without her and without justice. Regardless of what happened with the investigation, that man has to deal with, God is most capable. That is already dealt with I am sure the creator is making life very interesting for the killers.
“As her nephew, as a citizen, with a social infrastructure where justice is not swift, injustice will prevail. Realistically everyone is in a lot of pain. What is the resolution? We know she is not coming back... this is what these people did to us, totally destroyed us,” Persad said.
Last Thursday acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams at a police award ceremony said: “With regard to Dana Seetahal, inquires are in progress and we will see light beyond the tunnel in that matter in the near future.”
Asked to elaborate on the statement yesterday during a telephone interview Williams said he will not as that was as much as he was willing to disclose on the matter. Throughout the investigation police have been tight-lipped about their progress promising to inform the public through the media of anything “substantial”.
While the acting top cop gave assurances that the investigation is soon to end, lead investigator ACP Wayne Dick is expected to go on substantial leave soon, sources told the T&T Guardian. Asked about this, Williams said Dick has no application for leave before him as he is the only person authorised to approve it. Williams said previously that the Police Service had made Seetahal’s case the number one priority for the organisation and had a special team assigned the duty.
Among the units involved are the Homicide Bureau, the Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit, Special Branch, the Cyber Crime Unit and analysts from the Federal Bureau of Investigations of the United States and other foreign agencies.
How it happened
On the night of May 3, Seetahal left the Ma Pau casino car park on French Street, Port-of-Spain, a place she frequented, before driving onto Wrightson Road and later turning north onto Hamilton Holder Street, Woodbrook enroute to her One Woodbrook Place apartment.
Just after midnight as she neared the Woodbrook Youth Facility, her vehicle was blocked and a gunman shot her repeatedly at close range through the driver side window. An autopsy revealed that Seetahal was shot five times by her assailants. She was shot twice in the right side of her head, twice in the right forearm and once in the chest. Her killers were so close to her that gunpowder residue was found on her clothing and face. She died instantly.
A quantity of 5.56 ammunition shells were also recovered by police at the scene of the crime, leading investigators to conclude that there were at least two shooters.