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Rajaee Ali

Derek Achong

Alleged gang leader and murder accused Rajaee Ali has been removed from solitary confinement.

Guardian Media understands that Ali’s attorneys were informed of the shift on Tuesday while they were still waiting on a hearing date for his lawsuit over his placement in an isolated area of the Maximum Security Prison since August 12.

While acting Prisons Commissioner Dennis Pulchan essentially acceded to what was substantively being sought by Ali, through the lawsuit, Guardian Media understands that Ali’s lawyers intend to pursue the remaining elements of the case including compensation for the period he (Ali) claims he was unlawfully isolated.

On Wednesday, Ali’s lawyers were informed that his case comes up for hearing before Justice Devindra Rampersad on October 20.

The development in the case comes after Ali’s lawyer Roshan Tota-Maharaj was forced to file a separate lawsuit over allegedly being blocked from seeing Ali with a Commissioner of Affidavits to swear an affidavit required for the substantive claim.

When that case came up before Rampersad, last month, he was informed that Pulchan had reached out to Tota-Maharaj and had offered to facilitate the request.

On July 25, 2015, Ali, his brothers Ishmael and Hamid Ali; Devaughn Cummings, Ricardo Stewart, Earl Richards, Stephan Cummings, Kevin Parkinson, Leston Gonzales; Roget Boucher and Gareth Wiseman were charged with murdering Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal.

Seetahal was shot dead behind the wheel of her SUV while driving along Hamilton Holder Street in Woodbrook on May 4, 2014.

Ali’s wife Stacy Griffith, Deon Peters and David Ector were charged under the Anti-Gang Act for being members of a gang, while Griffith was additionally charged with assisting the gang.

The gang charges were initially dismissed based on the fact that they were laid indictably (heard and determined by a High Court Judge and jury), as opposed to summarily (heard and determined by a magistrate), as required for first-time offenders under the legislation.

The issue resulted in Peters and Ector being freed. Griffith remained before the court as she was slapped with the additional charge that was properly laid. Griffith’s charge for assisting the gang has since been discontinued by the DPP’s Office.

The Court of Appeal eventually reversed Cedeno’s decision and effectively reinstated the charges for being members of a gang.

As Ector was murdered in July 2018, only Peters was rearrested and charged again with the offence.

The reinstated charges are now before another magistrate.

Stephan Cummings was initially charged for the murder but in December 2017, he was made a State witness after he agreed to testify against his former friends. The charge was discontinued against him and he was instead charged with conspiring to murder Seetahal.

In July, the preliminary inquiry into Seetahal’s murder was completed and the group was committed to stand trial.

Ali and four others have also been committed to stand trial for conspiring to murder Slam 100.5 announcer Kevaughn “Lurbz” Savory on November 27, 2014.

Ali is also being represented by Lemuel Murphy and Joseph Sookoo.