Friday, February 23, 2018

Still no arrest in Dana’s murder

express editorial10

Donstan Bonn

 With 100 days gone since the shocking murder of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal, the police can no longer pretend that they are hot on the trail of the killer or killers. 

 On May 4, just after midnight, Ms Seetahal was shot and killed as she was driving home to One Woodbrook Place after leaving a casino. The murder appears to have been an assassination rather than a robbery.

 Given the time that has now passed with no arrests, the trail is by definition now cold and the likelihood of an arrest, much less a conviction, that much reduced. Even so, acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams last week gave the assurance that “we will see light in the tunnel in the near future.”

 Mr Williams did not specify what the “near future” is, nor what “light” would consist of. But, if by the end of this year no one has been arrested, then it would be reasonable to say that his prediction has failed. In any case, even if all hope of finding the killers is not lost, the failure of the police to find any suspects, or even to provide meaningful updates on the status of the case, has further diminished confidence in the Police Service, despite continued boasts from Ag Commissioner Williams that all serious crimes have dropped—except murder.

Even from the start, this investigation appears to have been mishandled. The police fixed the time of Ms Seetahal’s killing to within a few minutes, yet they failed to set up roadblocks as an immediate response. Also, if there are surveillance cameras on the street where she was killed or around the area, it seems that the footage was not able to identify a vehicle, much less the killers.

 Even with respect to a motive, the police seem unable to figure out why Ms Seetahal was murdered. If they could identify a reason, this would point, if not to the actual killers, to the party who would want her dead. Did she have information which could send powerful persons to jail? Was she killed as a warning to other persons close to her who occupy important posts? Was there someone in her personal or professional life seeking revenge?

There are as yet no answers to these questions. Hopefully, this is only because the police are keeping their cards close to their chest as they, slowly, tighten a net around the suspects. Be that as it may, it is hardly hyperbole to assert that the already poor reputation of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service rests on closing this case. As Susan Francois, the sister of Ms Seetahal, rightly noted, failure “would lead to the impression that criminals can operate with impunity in this country.”