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Acting CoP’s plea to media: Stop counting murder days

Published: 
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Dana Seetahal Murder
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams thanks Hisham Muhaamad, the feature speaker at a post Eid-ul-Fitr celebration, hosted by the Police Service, at Police Administration Building, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA

The media should stop counting down the number of days since Dana Seetahal was killed as that will not help speed up the investigation, says acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams. Speaking at a post-Eid-ul-Fitr function  yesterday at Police Administrative Building, Port-of-Spain, Williams urged the media to be sensitive to Seetahal’s family. Yesterday marked 100 days since the former independent senator was murdered. Eid-ul-Fitr was observed by the Muslim community on July 29.

Responding to questions on the status of the Seetahal investigation after the function, Williams said the constant display in the media of how many days had passed since her death was not sensitive to the grieving relatives. Williams asked the public to have some sensitivity to the family. “She was close to me so it was painful to me as a person who is not even a relative, so I wonder if you gave any consideration to the issue of the family,” Williams said.

He said the investigation was ongoing and reminded the media he had declared the investigation the number one priority of the Police Service. Williams said investigators believed they would make an arrest which would lead to a conviction, having received assistance from international bodies as well as many local law enforcement officers. 

Several units from different specialised units, including the Homicide Bureau, Criminal Intelligence and Gang Unit, Special Branch and Cyber Crime Unit, assisted by analysts from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, are among the team assigned to the investigation. Last week Williams 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.” 

A record $3.5 million has been offered for information leading to the arrest and successful conviction of those involved in the murder has not provided any useful tips. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 800-8477 or 627-0408. 

Family response
In a statement to the T&T Guardian to mark 100 days since her death, Seetahal’s sister, Susan Francois, the director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, said the family remained “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,” she added. 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.

The killing
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, en route 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 five times at close range through the driver’s side window. Her killers were so close that gunpowder residue was found on her clothing and face. She died instantly. Police found 5.56 ammunition shells at the scene, leading investigators to conclude there were at least two shooters.