Trinidad: Cops suspect murder in death of national award winner

A fire tender outside Haseena Ali’s Freeport home last evening. Ali’s body was found in the house after firefighters doused a fire which almost completely razed the structure. However, police believe she was killed by intruders who used the fire to cover their act.

(Trinidad Guardian) Two days be­fore cel­e­brat­ing her 75th birth­day, na­tion­al award win­ner Haseena Ali was found dead at her home in Freeport yes­ter­day. The house was gut­ted by fire.

How­ev­er, pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions have re­vealed her death may not have been ac­ci­den­tal. But in­ves­ti­ga­tors will await au­top­sy re­sults on Mon­day to de­ter­mine the ac­tu­al cause of her death.

Ac­cord­ing to a po­lice re­port, short­ly around mid­day res­i­dents at Palm Dri­ve re­port­ed see­ing smoke em­a­nat­ing from the up­per floor of her split-lev­el con­crete house. A pass­er-by ran in­to the house where he found Ali ly­ing in a pool of blood.

A brochure congratulating Hassena Ali after she won the Public Service Medal of Merit (Gold) for her service to the country in 2012.

Fire of­fi­cers from the Cou­va Fire Sta­tion re­spond­ed to the scene and were able to ex­tin­guish the blaze. How­ev­er, at about 7 pm the fire re-ig­nit­ed and up to late last night fire­fight­ers were at­tempt­ing to out it.

Po­lice said one the­o­ry is that Ali was at­tacked, beat­en and killed by as­sailants who then light­ed a stove and start­ed a fire in an at­tempt to burn the house down with her body and any ev­i­dence with it.

An in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer told the T&T Guardian that Ali was al­ready dressed to at­tend Fri­day prayers (Ju­mu’ah) at the Masjid Un Nur in Cara­pichaima, adding her hand­bag and cell­phone were al­ready in her ve­hi­cle which was still parked in the garage of her house at the time it caught fire. In fact, when neigh­bours saw the fire they were able to dri­ve the ve­hi­cle on­to the road­way.

Po­lice said they al­so saw a lot of blood smudges and signs of a strug­gle in­side the house dur­ing their pre­lim­i­nary search­es, which led them to be­lieve Ali was fa­tal­ly beat­en to death.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cers said they were al­so told two men were seen run­ning from the scene be­fore the fire start­ed, but could not say for sure if they were the sus­pects or if they were run­ning for help.

Ali’s broth­er, known as M Y Ali, told the T&T Guardian that he was very shocked and sad­dened by his sis­ter’s trag­ic death.

“We re­al­ly want to know what hap­pened and how she died but on­ly the au­top­sy will tell. I can­not say any more on it, but just to add that crime is out of con­trol and the gov­ern­ment over the years and the po­lice are to be blamed for not crack­ing down on crim­i­nals,” Ali said out­side her home last evening.

A close friend of Ali, who wished not to be iden­ti­fied, said she told him on Mon­day that she want­ed to help some peo­ple by giv­ing them work to do on her house. It is be­lieved Ali was con­tact­ed at about 9 am yes­ter­day by the work­men.

A mem­ber of the masjid said just on Sun­day Ali had par­tic­i­pat­ed in a wa­ter­mel­on eat­ing race at the mosque’s Sports and Fam­i­ly Day.

“She was a very kind-heart­ed and pleas­ant per­son, al­ways smil­ing and al­ways go­ing all out to give char­i­ty and to help peo­ple in need. Her heart was a heart of gold. She was too sweet of a per­son,” the masjid mem­ber said.

Ali had a long and il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer in tax au­dit­ing, ad­min­is­tra­tion and pol­i­cy. She was a re­tiree of the Board of In­land Rev­enue, where she served as com­mis­sion­er and chair­man from 1995 to 2003 and was al­so a mem­ber of the Salaries Re­view Com­mis­sion. Ali was al­so a for­mer trea­sur­er of the Is­lam­ic Ladies So­cial and Cul­tur­al As­so­ci­a­tion, fi­nance di­rec­tor for the Net­work of NGOs and a for­mer Na­tion­al Gas Com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors.

She was award­ed the Pub­lic Ser­vice Medal of Mer­it (Gold) for “out­stand­ing and mer­i­to­ri­ous ser­vice in the pub­lic ser­vices” in 2012.

Ali has lived in Freeport for over 30 years and was one of nine sib­lings. She was a moth­er of a 37-year-old daugh­ter who was said to be very dis­traught over her moth­er’s demise. Ali’s daugh­ter was said to be at the home of a fe­male rel­a­tive rest­ing af­ter be­ing over­whelmed by her moth­er’s death.

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