Thursday, February 22, 2018

Kamla: No rest until Dana’s killers caught


Mark Fraser

Government is determined to catch the persons who murdered senior counsel Dana Seetahal, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday.

Seetahal, a former state prosecutor and Independent senator, was murdered on May 4 in Woodbrook, on her way home from the Ma Pau casino. 

Today marks 13 days since her killing, with no arrests.

Persad-Bissessar vowed that Government will not rest till the killers are brought to justice.

She was speaking at the Diploma­tic Centre in St Ann’s where she hosted a Mother’s Day tea party for hundreds of women from all walks of life in the country.

The event, she said, was supposed to be held last Thursday but was postponed because of Seetahal’s killing.

Seetahal’s funeral service was held last Thursday at the Aramalaya Presbyterian Church in Tunapuna.

“I first must apologise to each and every one of you for not hosting this event last week as planned. Our country recoiled in shock and grief last week at the tragic loss of one of our most achieving daughters—senior counsel Dana Seetahal, who was killed in the early hours of Sunday May 4,” said Persad-Bissessar.

She said immediate steps had to be taken through the National Security Council, a brief call to the Chief Justice and continuous contact with the National Security minister.

“Not only will every resource possible be made available for the investigations into this atrocious act of violence against a woman who dedicated her life to justice but, also, we are determined to ensure whoever is responsible feels the full weight of the criminal justice system,” said Per­sad-Bissessar.

“As a woman who was described by her family and closest friends as a confidante, sounding board and mentor, I believe it right to celebrate her, in addition to her achieving life, as a true mother-figure in a brief moment of silence,” she added.

Guests present all stood and observed a moment of silence over the loss of Seetahal.

Persad-Bissessar noted as many celebrate Mother’s Day, there were grieving mothers who are today without their children due to tragedy and conflict.

She pointed to the death of 17-month-old Jaedon Cudjoe, saying his mother was inconsolable over the loss of her son who died on Tuesday after being forgotten in a car for hours by his grandfather.

“The circumstances of this incident are agonising to consider, and I am certain that many of us here today and throughout the country were moved to deep sadness on hearing the news,” said Persad-Bissessar.

“We pray that Almighty God will bring comfort to Jaedon’s family in their time of grief and help them to cope with their unbearable loss,” she added.

The Prime Minister said there were lessons to be learnt and urged parents to monitor their children and always know where they are.

Persad-Bissessar said Local Government Minister Marlene Coudray was also mourning the loss of her daughter, Michelle, who was murdered in 2012. Coudray was moved to tears.

Turning outside of Trinidad and Tobago, the Prime Minister said there were many Nigerian mothers who were in agony over the kidnapping of their daughters—nearly 300

—by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

The girls, ages 12-17,were abduc­ted from their dormitory on April 14 by Boko Haram gunmen who stormed their school.

Persad-Bissessar noted a CNN report which quoted Elizabeth, the mother of one of the girls, as saying, “We are feeling the pain. Till this day, our hearts hurt.”

The Prime Minister said since 2010, Boko Haram has targeted schools, killing hundreds of pupils, and more than 10,000 children are no longer able to attend school due to attacks by this terrorist group.

She said these terrorists have struck panic and dread in the lives of thousands of people and now threaten the lives of the children of so many mothers.

What is worse, she said, was that they were deliberating cheating an entire generation of children out of a future by stealing their opportunities for an education.

“This is not only to be condemned but must be met with force as harsh as their tyranny,” said Persad-Bissessar as she stressed she has always advocated for education for all boys and girls in this country.

“Today, I ask all of you here today to join with me in praying that Almighty God will comfort and give strength to the mothers in Nigeria during this extremely terrifying time and that He will look over these girls and deliver them safely back to their homes,” said Persad-Bissessar.