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New magistrate in Dana inquiry

Friday, January 29, 2016
Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal

Three weeks after Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar agreed to step down from the preliminary inquiry into the murder of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal, a new magistrate has been assigned to  preside over the case. 

During her first hearing in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Senior Magistrate Indrani Cedeno was called on to appoint attorneys through the Legal Aid and Advisory Board for two of the 11 accused men charged with assassinating the former Independent Senator. 

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard, SC, requested Cedeno’s assistance in obtaining legal representation for the men as he said his office needed lawyers to disclose the evidence in the case to kick off the inquiry. 

Gaspard promised the disclosure will take place before the next hearing on February 25. Security in and around the St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, courthouse was notably increased yesterday with police officers at strategic locations and traffic being diverted from in front of the court, measures which have become the norm on each hearing of the case. 

Accused gang leader Rajaee Ali, his brothers, Ishmael and Hamid Ali; Devaughn Cummings, Ricardo Stewart, Earl Richards, Stephan Cummings, Kevin Parkinson, Leston Gonzales; Roget Boucher and Gareth Wiseman are accused of murdering Seetahal on May 4, 2014. 

Seetahal was driving alone Hamilton Holder Street, Woodbrook, when she was ambushed and shot dead in her SUV. 

Ali, Stacy Griffith, Deon Peters and David Ector are on charges under the Anti-Gang Act for assisting the group in the murder but are not charged with the capital offence.

Earlier this month, Ayers-Caesar acceded to a request to recuse herself from the case by some of the accused men attorney, Criston J Williams. 

In their application, the accused questioned Ayers-Caesar’s impartiality as they claimed some of the officers of the Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit (CGIU) who investigated Seetahal’s murder were briefly assigned to her security detail. 

Ayers-Caesar had previously agreed to recuse herself from Ali’s separate case for conspiring to murder radio announcer Kevaughn “Lerbz” Savory in late 2014 on the same ground.