MURDERED: Dana Seetahal, SC. –
WITH the ninth anniversary of her murder passing two weeks ago, relatives of Dana Seetahal, SC, are wondering what is the reason for the delay in bringing the 11 men charged with her killing, to trial before a judge and jury.
Speaking over the weekend, Seetahal’s sister Susan Francois said while the men were committed to stand trial in July 2020, they are yet to be called before a High Court judge.
Newsday was told one of the reasons for the delay was that the transcription of evidential notes is yet to be completed. These notes are to be taken from the recordings of witness testimonies viva voce (oral rather than written).
After this is completed, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions can file the indictment.
The inquiry began in 2015, a year after the May 4, 2014 murder of Seetahal, who was killed on her way home after leaving a casino. There were close to 100 witnesses for the State.
Francois said the delay is just a further disappointment for the family.
“I’m very disappointed that nearly three years after the PI (preliminary inquiry) was completed, the matter has not gone to the High Court. One would have expected that, like any other matter, it should have been completed and promptly.”
Seetahal, apart from being a defence attorney, was an independent senator and special prosecutor. She was also an advocate for criminal justice reform. Her killing sparked national outrage over the spate of crime, with police promising to leave no stone unturned in getting justice.
On July 23, 2020, Rajaee Ali, Devaughn Cummings, Ishmael Ali, Ricardo Stewart, Earl Richards, Gareth Wiseman, Hamid Ali, Kevin Parkinson, Leston Gonzales and Roget Boucher were committed to stand trial for her murder .
Stephan Cummings, who was originally also charged, was discharged in December 2017 by the DPP and instead charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He has since turned state’s witness against the other ten, one of whom is his brother.
Francois said this delay leaves the preliminary inquiry incomplete as her family waits for the Judiciary to complete its role before the case can go forward.
On Saturday, Newsday e-mailed court protocol and information manager Carl Francis on the issue of the transcription notes being still incomplete. No response has been forthcoming.
“I just really hope something is done soon about the crime situation in this country. How long more must people suffer? How much longer must people be confined to their homes?
“How much longer will people not be able to have a quality of life in this country, a quality of life that people in other parts of the world enjoy?” Francois asked.