Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dana’s niece backs ‘hit’ theory

The niece of murdered senior counsel Dana Seetahal said yesterday “an organised hit” was also her initial assimilation of the scene of her aunt’s death.

Danielle Francois was asked by the Express to comment on a statement made by United States Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield that Seetahal’s murder in May was an “organised hit”.

Francois said her “initial assimilation” of the scene of her aunt’s death had led her to make similar conclusions.

However, she said she was making her comments in the context of what she had read in the media, as she had not actually heard Brownfield’s comments herself.

“That would be the generic profile based on the crime scene evidence, it was my initial assimilation of what had occurred as well. However, the profiles are based on studies conducted in the US and the UK and there are cultural differences in the way crime is conducted on our tiny island as opposed to first world countries.

“I was not present to hear what was actually said, but I have read two accounts in two different newspapers that differ slightly. In the main I would be sceptical of the statement that the hit was ordered from outside the country but again I am unclear as to whether he actually said that,” Francois said.

During a media teleconference on Tuesday to discuss US/Caribbean security co-operation, Brownfield pointed to a direct correlation between street crime and transnational drug trafficking. He addressed the killing of Seetahal, saying it was an organised hit.

“I stand by what I say, this was quite clearly not a crime of passion, this was not a crime of opportunity. People did not just happen by and believe that they could steal her pocket book and then find that they had to open fire in order to accomplish this. This was a carefully planned operation. And there is only one kind of entity that does contract murders of this sort of degree of sensitivity and that is organised crime,” Brownfield said.

He also emphasised that he was not suggesting that it was an international player who ordered the killing.

“I am saying that it was a criminal organisation that clearly had a presence in Trinidad and Tobago which decided to perform this repulsive and repugnant act,” Brownfield said.

Brownfield left Trinidad and Tobago two days before Seetahal was murdered.

*Today marks 54 days since Dana Seetahal, SC, was shot and killed while driving her Volkswagen SUV in Woodbrook. To date, no one has been arrested for her murder.

*On May 4, just after midnight, Seetahal was proceeding north along Hamilton Holder/O’Connor Streets, towards her One Woodbrook Place home, when her vehicle was blocked from the front and back by unknown assailants.

*Seetahal was shot five times about her body at close range, before her attackers fled the scene.

*Seetahal was an alumna of the United States State Department’s Fulbright programme.