By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Chief of Staff (COS) of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Major General Norman McLean has questioned the authenticity of two documents presented to him at the ongoing Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI) today.
Mclean rejected firstly an ‘account form’, dated June 24, 1979 which purported to show the request for guns and ammunition from the GDF for an outside agency.
According to the Former Army Chief, he did not recognize any of the signatures on the document and suggested that a handwriting expert be sought to verify the signatures.
He was later shown what appeared to be a payroll of the GDF, dated May 24, 1979 which revealed that a Smith, believed to be William Gregory Smith, receiving payment from the GDF during that period when it is being claimed he had deserted the institution.
Smith is said to have been responsible for Rodney’s death having given him the ‘walkie talkie’ which exploded.
To this end, McLean, who headed the GDF for eleven years (1979 – 1990) also challenged the authenticity of the ‘photocopied document’, claiming there was no signature to prove that the persons received any monies.
Commission Counsel, Attorney – at – Law Glen Hanoman claimed that the documents were acquired from the GDF and it is his intention to call the Officer who supplied the documents at a later date to testify.
McLean, who was subpoenaed by the Commission, said he is in no way directly involved in the investigations surrounding Smith’s involvement in Walter Rodney’s death and denied knowing that a military aircraft had transported him shortly after the Friday, June 13, 1980 death of Rodney.
“I leant of that for the first time six weeks ago during a conversation with Gerry Gouveia who told me that he had been asked to come and testify about flying that aircraft.”
He clarified that when he had announced publicly a day after the incident that there was no Gregory Smith working for the GDF was because he later found out that his name was actually William Gregory Smith.
McLean did not provide many details but reiterated that the police and his staff, including Joseph Harmon and David Granger, along with others who are deceased would have been involved and would be able to provide details.
He was accused, under cross examination of ‘turning a blind eye’ or ‘washing his hands clean’ of the investigation, a suggestion which was rejected by the former Army Chief.
Meanwhile, Major General McLean accused Hanoman of ‘taking him on a fishing trip’ as he [Hanoman] continued to ask him about activities in the Force prior to his July 1979 appointment.
McLean made it clear however that he did not know of the Army’s involvement in Rodney’s death, or its abuse by the government under his 11 year stewardship.
“There could have been rogue elements and things could have happened without me knowing.”
The former COS denied too that he would go to PNC congress and swore allegiance as stated by a previous witness.
“Not this boy, not this boy here,” he said when asked.
Meanwhile, the Commission has undertaken to have the original documents and others from the GDF for the period under inquiry to be made available.