The “execution” of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal a prominent Trinidad and Tobago attorney has sent shock waves in the legal fraternity, the wider society and among jurists in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The country woke up to the news on Sunday morning that Seetahal, 58, was assassinated in true mafia-style while on her way home just after leaving a popular casino around midnight on Saturday.
She was a former Independent senator, newspaper columnist and author and was described as a fearless prosecutor involved in several high profile cases.
Apart from serving as a State prosecutor, she served as a Magistrate and Assistant Solicitor General. She was also a former lecturer at the Hugh Wooding Law School and held the position of Course Director in Criminal Practice and Prosecutions.
At the time of her killing, Seetahal was one of the lead prosecutors in the case involving a well-known woman in the business community, who was kidnapped and shot dead, with her dismembered body dumped in the sea some seven years ago.
Twelve men are currently on trial for her murder in the Port of Spain High Court.
Police described the current brutal killing as a “well-orchestrated hit” a few miles off the City of Port of Spain.
According to police reports, Seetahal was driving north along Holder Street, Port of Spain on her way home, a short distance away at One Woodbrook Place when two vehicles pulled alongside her car, blocking her from moving as she nearied the Woodbrook Youth Center.
Other vehicles described as a panel van, then moved alongside her car and the occupants of that vehicle drew high-powered guns and opened fire on the SUV. The two vehicles then sped off.
Seetahal was found dead slumped behind the wheel of her car when police arrived. She was shot multiple times in the head and upper-body.
Among the high-profile cases she prosecuted was one against attempted coup leader Yasin Abu Bakr, which enabled the state to sell the former insurgent’s property and was currently involved in the Coolman murder trial.
She also defended star entertainer Machel Montano recently in an assault case, which but he was convicted of the offence.
Seetahal, who was made a senior counsel in 2008, also acted as a criminal justice consultant to governments across the region and various international bodies.
The government has offered a TT$2.5 million to add to the $1 million (TT$3.5 million) Crime Stoppers has offered for information leading to the arrest and successful conviction of those involved in the murder of the attorney.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar described Seetahal’s brutal murder as “an abyss of loss and sadness,” saying she was “a sister, a friend, legal luminary and fearless, independent thinker on national issues.”
Persad-Bisssessar in her capacity as chairman of the National Security Council had called an emergency meeting at her in Port of Spain to discuss coordination of various arms of national security to investigate the murder.
Seetahal was the second attorney to be murdered over the past few months. The murder rate had sky-rocketed to 160 since the start of the New Year.
Just last week a man, who won a shooting case was gunned just after he walked out the courthouse in Arima, about 26 miles east of Port of Spain.
The killing spree in the country has escalated over the past two months, with two and three people being murdered in one day in certain parts of the country.
So far the police have only been able to solve 20 of those killings.