Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 5th 2014 Contents A10
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for MAY 02nd 2014
In November 1990, T&T Guardian
journalist GAIL ALEXANDER spoke
to Dana Seetahal for a series titled
Fast Lane. During the interview, See-
tahal recalled a brush with a rapist.
After talking to some of Seetahal's
colleagues about her killing yesterday,
Alexander recalls excerpts of that
interview in the following piece in
Back in November of 1990, as she
recollected how she had fought off a
rape attempt in 1987, the late Dana
Seetahal said she agreed with the
adage "it could happen to any
And she went on to say, "I don t
Seetahal was then speaking about
the unsuccessful rape attempt---which
occurred in November 1987---in an
interview for the Fast Lane column, a
1990 feature series. This dealt with
unusual people who did unusual things,
and Seetahal was one of them.
She was five foot one inch tall. Her
attacker, who was six feet four inches,
pounced one afternoon while she was
jogging along the Priority Bus Route
near St Augustine.
Seetahal said she saw him coming
towards her from the opposite direction,
but thought nothing until he came clos-
er. She related how he had lunged
toward her and tried to grab her hips.
But she sprang into action, slashing
him across the face with a bunch of
keys and letting loose some piercing
screams. She said at that time she
wasn t thinking about the purple belt
in karate she held or how fit running
had kept her.
She had started running in 1984 and
took it very seriously, doing short races
and a marathon up to 1990. She was
an avid swimmer and was also into
"working out." So she succeeded in
deterring her attacker, who ran off.
A young magistrate at the time, See-
tahal later learned that the man had
several previous convictions for rape
and assault. He got three months in
jail for attacking her.
Empathising with rape victims, she
said the foiled attack made her more
alert and more careful.
The Fast Lane story chronicled See-
tahal s path from the time the Tacarigua
girl moved from Bishop Anstey High
to Hugh Wooding Law school and her
endeavours in the legal arena and the
bench at the time. There were cases
she could not forget when she shed her
judge s robes at day s end.
She also spoke about her time in law
school, where she promoted T&T cul-
ture and popularised the "Dana Strut"---
her brand of jump-up. She recalled
some of her classmates, the National
Alliance for Reconstruction s (NAR)
Joseph Toney and Deborah Moore Mig-
gins, and that chum Israel Khan was
a "very good wicketkeeper."
Yesterday, Israel Khan SC, deeply
shocked and in his own words "flab-
bergasted and in a tailspin," said he d
heard of Seetahal s death around 1 am
yesterday from police.
"It s now 2.15 pm when you called,
and I realise I m still in my pyjamas
and haven t eaten---I m in a daze," Khan
The bullets which snuffed out See-
tahal s life in Woodbrook also shattered
their 37-year friendship.
Khan was lead prosecutor in the Vin-
dra Naipaul-Coolman case in which
Seetahal was the third lead and Gilbert
Peterson the second lead prosecutor.
He said security for the remaining two
prosecutors and others on the case was
immediately enforced after Seetahal s
Grieving the loss of his school-
mate, friend, colleague and chum,
Khan spoke in low dull tones of
their meeting at the Cave Hill
campus of UWI, how they
"clicked" and how both were
admitted to practice at the late
Aeneas Wills chambers.
"We worked side by side in such
a small office that if one of us had
to interview someone, the other
had to go out into the waiting room
until it was finished," Khan recalled
Seetahal later left for the Solic-
itor General s department and
Khan remained in private practice.
They both taught at the law
school. When Khan launched his
own chambers, Seetahal worked
with him for eight years, during
which time both achieved senior
counsel ("silk") status.
Seetahal launched her own El
Dorado chamber in 2008. But the
duo retained such a good relation-
ship that Khan s secretariat was
accustomed to passing on Seeta-
hal s new location to people who
called Khan s chamber seeking her.
"We were very close. We d visit
her estate in Tamana and she
would come to ours ... every
Christmas, Divali, Eid, Emanci-
pation, we d lime. I was like a big
brother to her," Khan said.
"She served the administration
of justice in every way, from Law
Association president to authoring
a textbook on criminal practice
and procedure now used in all
regional law schools. One of the
last things she did last week was
a plea-bargaining forum."
A wake was being held last night
at the home of Seetahal s parents,
where one of her siblings lives.
Her sister, Susan Francois, heads
the Financial Intelligence Unit.
Seetahal never married.
Khan said, "The law was her
husband and children, she gave
her life to it and for it."
In 1990 s Fast Lane piece, See-
tahal admitted to feeling somewhat
helpless and disillusioned about
some cases she saw then, saying,
"It seems people only seem to listen
when something drastic happens."
Clearly, someone must listen
KILLING OF DANA SEETAHAL, SC
Seetahal had brush with rapist in 1987
'I don't tempt fate'
Israel Khan SC, left, looks on as Dana Seetahal SC peers into a bag at a
gift she received as a parting gift in 2008, as she left Khan's chambers
to set up her own. PHOTO COURTESY DANIEL KHAN
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