HIGH-LEVEL TALKS: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaks to National Security Minister Gary Griffith following yesterday’s emergency meeting of the National Security Council, which she heads, at the Teaching Hospital, Chancery Lane, San Fernando. The meeting was called following the murder of senior counsel Dana Seetahal on Sunday morning. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

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$3.5m REWARD

Govt, CrimeStoppers offer incentive leading to arrest and conviction of Dana’s killers

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said last evening that her Government is offering an additional $2.5 million to anyone who can help with information leading to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of those involved in the murder of senior counsel Dana Seetahal.

This is in addition to the $1 million reward being offered by CrimeStoppers.

And should the investigation require foreign resources and expertise, that too would be provided by the State, Persad-Bissessar said.

Persad-Bissessar, who is also chairperson of the National Security Council (NSC), called an emergency meeting of the NSC at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital yesterday.

She convened the meeting in reaction to the shooting death of Seetahal on Sunday morning. Following the meeting, a media briefing was held at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital at 6.30 pm.

Earlier, Government ministers began arriving at the facility at 3.30 pm, among them Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Minister of National Security Gary Griffith, Trade and Communications Minister Vasant Bharath, Justice Minister Emmanuel George, Works and Infrastructure Minister Surujrattan Rambachan, Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar. Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, Chief  of Defence Staff Major General Kenrick Maharaj, and Bisnath Maharaj, director of the Strategic Security Agency (SSA) also attended the meeting.

Persad-Bissessar said a “big investigating team” was assigned to the Seetahal murder case.

“The Government agreed we will contribute to CrimeStoppers.           For information leading to arrest and prosecution $1 million has been offered. The Government will now offer a further incentive in terms of getting human evidence - $2.5 million with respect to arrest, prosecution and conviction. It is all very well to get the information and intelligence but what is important is to sustain what comes forward into conviction,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said the NSC was briefed on the status of the investigations into Seetahal’s murder by Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams. She said Williams had accepted the offer for foreign expertise to be sourced if necessary.

Persad-Bissessar added, “It will not be prudent for us at this stage of the investigation to go into the operational aspects of the investigations because that would be foolhardy and reckless on our part. It is the right thing to do at this stage of the investigation.”

She said the NSC was also briefed on the technological aspects of the investigations including audio and video aspects. “We had placed great priorities on the replacement  of deficient CCTV cameras and through the legal operations of the SSA (Strategic Services Agency) there is audio evidence that will come forward,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said the death of Seetahal was a direct attack on someone who has operated within the criminal justice system. “And therefore it goes far into the functioning of our country, nation and people,” she said.

Williams assured the public that everything possible would be done to ensure that the investigation was completed in the shortest possible time. He advised the media to refrain from using information not relevant to the case, including information that a panel van was involved in the killing.

Persad-Bissessar said that following an urgent meeting with Griffith, security would be provided to any member of the Judiciary seeking protection. She said several persons have already been provided with protection.

Asked why the high profile meeting was being held in San Fernando, Persad-Bissesar said the executive floor of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital was previously used for Cabinet meetings and the Government would continue to meet at the facility. 

Autopsy: Two shots to head, one to chest

Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal was hit five times—twice to the right side of her head, once to her chest, and twice to the right arm.

This was confirmed yesterday by pathologist Dr Hughvon Des Vignes in a brief interview  with investigative journalist Mark Bassant. 

The injuries, the pathologist said, would have killed her almost immediately and were all caused by the same weapon. He however did not confirm if death was caused by 5.56 ammunition as previously reported in the media.

Fifteen spent shells were recovered along O’Connor Street, Woodbrook where Seetahal was murdered just after midnight on Sunday. 

The autopsy was performed on Sunday morning at the Forensic Science Centre in St James, mere moments after Seetahal’s body was removed from O’Connor Street and took about two hours to be completed. 

 

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