Appeal Court overturns Donald Rodney’s conviction

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Donald Rodney

The Guyana Court of Appeal on Tuesday set aside the conviction and 18-month sentence for possession of explosives against Donald Rodney – the brother of the late Guyanese politician and historian, Dr Walter Rodney who was assassinated in an explosion some 40 years ago in 1980.

According to reports, Donald Rodney was the only eyewitness to the June 13, 1980 assassination of his brother who was the co-leader of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA).

However, two years later, he was convicted for possession of explosives without lawful authority and was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment.

Following the conviction, it is understood that Donald Rodney filed an appeal within the statutorily prescribed time, and was granted bail pending appeal.

Today’s ruling was handed down by Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings following submissions made by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Rodney’s Defence Lawyer Sanjeev Datadin.

Moreover, DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack said that Rodney’s constitutional rights have been breached due to the case spending an unduly long time within the criminal justice system.

She added that there is insufficient evidence to support the conviction. She explained that though Donald Rodney had a “walkie-talkie” in his possession, evidence cannot prove that he knew the instrument was the carrier of an explosive; as such, the charge cannot be proven.

A Commission of Inquiry (CoI) held in 2015 under the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration found that Dr Walter Rodney’s death was a State killing and that the then Prime Minister Forbes Burnham had to have known about the plot.