Acting Prisons Commissioner testifies for accused in Dana Seetahal inquiry

Dennis Pulchan, acting Prisons Commissioner. -
Dennis Pulchan, acting Prisons Commissioner. -

ACTING Prisons Commissioner Dennis Pulchan was on Wednesday the only witness to testify for one of the ten men accused of murdering senior attorney and former independent senator Dana Seetahal.

Pulchan was summoned by attorneys for Gareth Wiseman to testify for the defence.

Three other defence witnesses, one more for Wiseman and two for Devaughn Cummings, were relieved after defence attorney Mario Merritt said he no longer needed to question them.

Pulchan gave his evidence from the Port of Spain Eighth Magistrates’ Court. Merritt and attorney Randall Raphael also sought, and received, permission to go to the court to question him there.

In accordance with provisions of the Indictable Offences (Preliminary Inquiry) Act, the evidence of witnesses at preliminary inquiries cannot be reported.

He will return on Thursday to be further questioned.

At last Wednesday’s sitting, Wiseman and Cummings said they intended to call witnesses after they were cautioned. On that occasion, presiding magistrate Indrani Cedeno was asked not to make the committal orders until the defence’s evidence came to an end.

At Wednesday’s sitting, the men refused to sign notices of alibi and last week they all refused to sign their caution forms which were individually taken to the three prison locations – Port of Spain, Golden Grove and Maximum Security – by registrars of the court.

During Merritt's questioning of Pulchan, there was a series of objections by the prosecution on the way Merritt was questioning his own witness. There were also objections to Raphael’s questioning of the witness called for the defence.

Two Fridays ago, Cedeno ruled that a prima facie case had been made out by prosecutors against the ten men.

She also found that a prima facie case had been made out against former LifeSport coordinator Rajaee Ali on the charge of being a gang leader.

Before the court are Rajaee Ali, Devaughn Cummings, Ishmael Ali, Ricardo Stewart, Earl Richards, Gareth Wiseman, Hamid Ali, Kevin Parkinson, Leston Gonzales, Roget Boucher. Stephan Cummings was discharged of Seetahal’s murder in December 2017, after the DPP exercised powers under section 90(c) of the Constitution and discontinued proceedings.

Instead, Cummings was charged with conspiracy to murder and became a state witness against his brother and the others. Seetahal was shot dead on May 4, 2014 in Woodbrook as she made her way home.

Also representing the prosecution are Senior Counsel Gilbert Peterson, and attorneys Elaine Greene and Andrea Johnson while defence attorneys Karunaa Bisramsingh and Roshan Tota-Maharaj are also part of the defence team.

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