PORT OF SPAIN – Dana Saroop Seetahal provided much needed and highly appreciated professional services to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at “peppercorn rates which should make some [in her profession today] blush when they submit their invoices”.
This was stated in the tribute paid to Seetahal by International Criminal Court judge and former DPP Geoffrey Henderson read by Seetahal’s sister Susan Francois at the “service of comfort” held in “solemn remembrance of her life and work” at the Aramalaya Presbyterian Church in Tunapuna yesterday.
Francois is the head of the Financial Investigations Unit (FIU) .
Aspects of Dana Seetahal SC’s multifaceted persona were revealed as her family, friends and colleagues eulogised her.
From a public point of view, the population always knew Dana Seetahal was a frank, independent speaker, a fearless prosecutor and a formidable defence attorney, a writer who could “deconstruct” the complex legalese in her newspaper columns, a hard worker and a stickler for perfection who sometimes liked to buff, and a mentor as she schooled generations of lawyers.
But the average citizen also learned yesterday that Dana Seetahal loved and enjoyed life and had a playful side. We learned that she had her own peculiar dance called the “Dana strut”, that she liked good food, could cook a mean sada roti and curry chicken, was stylish and cared about her physical appearance and that she nurtured and cherished friendships.
Merlin Boyce told us that Seetahal was “thrilled to cross the savannah stage” as she carried the banner for UWI Birdsong during her days as a law student, that she was good at karate. Boyce said during their 40-year friendship, when they would talk about various things, “we would say ‘just like in the movies’. It is ironic that her end fitted such a description”, Boyce said. She noted that the country was united in grief in a way that it had not been since the Strike Squad.
All spoke of her love for the country and for her family. And her nieces and nephews described her as “superwoman”. “She pushed the limits of love”, one of them said, noting that she celebrated all their achievements and milestones.
But Henderson’s words about her willingness to give her legal expertise at “peppercorn” fees to the State also told the country and the legal community that Dana represented what every attorney ought to aspire to be, in every way.
The service was attended by politicians, members of the judiciary and people from every walk of life. Rev Daniel Teelucksingh, who was in the Senate for part of the period that Seetahal served as independent senator, delivered a sermon, trying at times to lighten the mood and ease the raw pain of Seetahal’s loss. He noted that she was more than Dana, more than a physical presence. She was an “indestructible force”.
“Well done, Well done, good and faithful servant, enter the blessedness and joy of your Lord,” Teelucksingh said.