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The Trini Book of the Dead
“In this country of just 1.3 million people, there have been 160 murders so far this year. The islands have some of the world’s prettiest beaches and some of the highest murder rates. Most are barely reported. Anyone who knows why Ms Seetahal was killed is not talking. She had been due in court on May 5, where she was a leading member of the prosecution team in a high-profile murder-and-kidnapping case. Ms Seetahal was a fierce campaigner for criminal justice reform, urgently needed in T&T. Creaky ex-colonial judicial systems cannot cope with a flood of drug- and gang-related crime, complex fraud and money-laundering. Routine criminal cases can take ten years to reach a verdict. For the slightest of reasons, hearings may be adjourned for six months or more; and then postponed again. Suspects languish in overcrowded prisons, innocent until proven guilty. Witnesses are intimidated, change their mind about testifying or simply forget what happened. Some are shot, some migrate, some die from natural causes.”
—The Economist, May 6
I have not seen a nation heaving with a grief as big as this since 1990 when our people had a collective breakdown from which we have never recovered. After 1990, nothing was the same. The guns scattered from “hit” to “hit,” some higher profile than others. We can fill an entire issue of this newspaper, if we desire, with the names of the dead since 1990—and that may not be enough. It’s time we remember some key ones.
1994: Dr Chandra Narayansingh shot dead while getting into her car outside the Langmore Health Foundation at Palmyra on June 29. People still speak of her beauty. But it was her brain that people wanted. Her hit man was identified; but although the trial dragged on and on, the people ordering the hit were not. That page is blank. We forget.
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