Eleven members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen appeared in the Port-of-Spain Magistrate's Court this afternoon charged with assasinating former Independent Senator Dana Seetahal, SC, in May, last year.The man anmed as the gang leader Rajaee Ali and 10 members of the Jamaat's Carapo outpost, operated by his family, appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar.
The accused men, who all dressed in Muslim garb, occupied the entire prisoner enclosure of the courtroom and stood silently as the charge was being read.
In addition to the murder charge, Ali was also slapped with a charge for being a gang leader, while his co-accused were charged with being members of a gang between March last year and earlier this month.
Jamaat members Deon Peters, David Ector and one of Ali's wives Stacy Griffith were not charged with the murder but were slapped with charges for being members of Ali's gang. Griffith was also slapped with an additional charge for facilitating gang activity. They were not called upon to plead to any of the charges.
During the hearing lawyer for the group, Criston J Williams claimed that several newspapers and television stations had reported on evidence in the case which may affect his client's ability to get a fair trial. In response, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard who assured Williams that he would advise the media on proper and responsible reporting on the case.
Jamaat leader Yasin Abu Bakr was also present in court and waved to the accused men as they were being led out of the court. Abu Bakr and Hassan Ali were initially detained for questioning in relation to Seetahal's murder last Monday, but were released without charge after spending close to three days in police custody.The accused will reappear in court on August 24.
The accused are:
1. Rajaee Ali, 29, of Arima.
2. Devaughn Cummings, 29, of D'Abadie
3. Ishmael Ali, 30, of Arima (brother of Rajaee Ali)
4. Ricardo Stewart, 30, of Arima
5. Earl Richards, 48, of Cocorite
6. Stephan Cummings, 33, of Arima
7. Gareth Wiseman, 33, of Chaguanas
8. Hamid Ali, 34, of Melodians Crescent, Malabar, Arima, (brother of Rajaee Ali)
9. Kevin Parkinson, 28, of Water Hole, Cocorite
10. Leston Gonzales, 28, of Arima
11. Roget Boucher, 29, of Arima
According to reports, shortly before midnight on May 3 last year, Seetahal left the Ma Pau casino car park on French Street, Port-of-Spain, before driving onto Wrightson Road and later turning north onto Hamilton Holder Street, Woodbrook.
Police said as she approached the Woodbrook Youth Facility around 12.05 am, she was blocked by two vehicles, whose occupants came out and shot her.
Seetahal was shot five times, 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.
Omar Seetahal, brother of the slain Senior Council, said all his sister ever wanted was justice for all.
"We are honestly hoping for justice � true justice. I want a true, fair and impartial criminal justice system. Dana was a person who wanted justice not merely convictions, she wanted true justice. I felt her presence in the courtroom today, she has always been an officer of the law," Seetahal said
He said his family are happy that there is progress in the case.
"I am happy to see that a step has been taken. The first step, we know that it is a journey but we are looking forward to a successful conclusion. We are looking forward for justice for Dana. We really hope our law enforcement agencies continue to do their part in making sure that true justice is served," Seetahal said.