By RICHARDSON DHALAI Tuesday, May 6 2014
DESCRIBING the assassination of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal as a “dastardly” crime and “direct attack” on an officer of the justice system, Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar yesterday announced an additional $2.5 million would be added to the original $1 million reward, to anyone whose information would lead to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons behind Seetahal’s slaying.
Seetahal, one of the lead prosecutors in the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman murder trial, was gunned down as she was driving along Hamilton Holder Street in Woodbrook on Sunday morning.
The killing prompted Persad-Bissessar to summon an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) — which she chairs — at the boardroom of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital yesterday.
Addressing reporters during a break in the high powered meeting, which included Ag Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, National Security Minister Gary Griffith, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Chief of Defense Staff Brigadier General Kenrick Maharaj, Director of the National Operations Centre Garvin Heera and others, Persad- Bissessar announced the increase in the reward being offered to encourage the intelligence gathering aspect of the investigation.
“We have had discussions with respect to the reward that is being offered by Crime Stoppers and government has agreed to contribute to Crime Stoppers by way of upping the ante in the sense of information leading to the arrest and prosecution.
A million dollars has been offered and government has agreed that we will now offer a further incentive in terms of getting persons to come forward by raising $2.5 million with respect to arrests, prosecution and conviction,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“It is all very well to get the information, to get the intelligence but what is important is to also sustain whatever comes forward into a conviction,” she added.
“Government has also offered and the Commissioner has accepted our offer that should they (police) request the use of foreign expertise in this investigation, we will provide whatever resources that may be necessary.” “We see this as a direct attack on someone who was operating within the criminal justice system and therefore it goes far beyond the functioning of our country , the functioning of our people and the functioning of our nation,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Commissioner Williams said that the investigative team is “one of the largest ever” assembled locally for a single investigation.
“We have put that investigative team to work, we have been progressing, there has been clear obvious good signs to the investigation and the police service will be doing everything possible to ensure that this investigation is completed within the shortest period of time,” Williams said.
Williams warned members of the media to “stay away from communicating anything about any panel van” as this was not relevant to the investigation. “We want the support of the media, we want the support of citizens, we have received expansive cooperation of the citizens which is a very positive sign.
“Ten citizens are partnering with the police service toward addressing this investigation,” he said.