The International Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the death of Working People’s Alliance (WPA) Leader, Dr. Walter Rodney has concluded what has long been believed by many, that is – without any doubt, the Forbes Burnham-led Peoples National Congress (PNC) Government and other agencies operating on behalf of the State were responsible for the historian’s assassination.
According to the CoI Final report, which was leaked and seen by INews a few hours ago, Dr Rodney was killed as part of a State organised assassination with the knowledge of then Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, with attempts made by State security forces at the time, to shield and protect the man thought to be directly responsible for carrying out the assassination – Gregory Smith.
“Given the manner in which the country was run, coupled with the threats issued by Prime Minister Burnham to the members of the WPA and the evidence of Mr Robert Allan Gates, we conclude that Prime Minister Burnham knew of the plan and was part of the conspiracy to assassinate Dr. Walter Rodney”.
The Commission concluded that Gregory Smith was not acting alone “but had the active and full support, participation and encouragement of, and/or was aided and abetted by the GPF, the GDF, agencies of the State, and political directorate in the killing of Dr. Walter Rodney”.
Noting that Dr Walter Rodney was a man of large and significant stature, both in Guyana and beyond at the time of his death, the Commission found that he could only have been killed in “a State organised assassination with the knowledge of Prime Minister Burnham in the Guyana of that period”.
The Commission particularly pointed out that Guyana at the time was a controlled society and Burnham had a large and detailed knowledge of whatever was being done by the State and its agencies.
The CoI said that in the end “it is clear to us that the Police were unprofessional, extremely inefficient in turning a blind eye to obvious, or deliberately botched investigation in Dr Rodney’s killing, or were complicit with others, including the GDF in hiding or shielding Gregory Smith from facing the brunt of the law for having murdered Dr. Walter Rodney.
“Mr. Lewis, then Head of Special Branch and later Commissioner of Police is dead. We find, however, that there is prima facie evidence that he, along with Major General, Norman McLean (Ret’d), then Chief of Staff of the GDF and Mr Cecil ‘Skip’ Roberts, the Deputy Commissioner of Police and Crime Chief, had significant roles to play in the conspiracy to kill Dr. Rodney and the subsequent attempt to conceal the circumstances surrounding his death,” the report stated.
The three-member panel, which consisted of well respected international legal experts, that was involved in probing the death of Dr Rodney last Tuesday handed over the Final report to the Attorney-General’s secretary following instructions reported to have come from President David Granger of his unavailability to receive the report in person. It is now more than a week since the report was handed over, but so far President Granger has not made the findings of the inquiry known to the public in spite of mounting pressure, particularly from the Opposition PPP/C, for the President to release the findings of the report.
Former President Donald Ramotar, in a press statement two days ago, had said the APNU/AFC Government appears to be moving to undermine the findings of the Inquiry in an attempt to avoid releasing the truth surrounding the death of the international historian.
Ramotar, under whose tenure as President, had established the three-member Commission to probe the circumstances which led to the death of the WPA founding member back in 1980, slammed the Government, saying that its posture and handling of the findings of the report was an indication it was gearing up to reject the report in its totality.
He highlighted that the circumstances surrounding Rodney’s death has left a gaping wound in the conscience of the Guyanese society and it has also damaged the reputation of our country among democratic and peace loving people in the world.
The members of the Commission were; Queens Counsel Sir Richard Cheltenham (Chairman) from Barbados, Senior Counsel Seenauth Jairam from Trinidad and Tobago and Queens Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown from Jamaica.
Rodney, a political scholar and social activist died in an explosion some 36 years ago. The WPA, the political party he founded, like many other organisations and groups, has since that day been pointing fingers in the direction of the then PNC administration. Rodney was said to be a thorn in the flesh of the government of the day, and was considered an emerging presence of hope for those who were mistreated by that regime.
On June 13, 1980, a bomb, planted in a walkie-talkie exploded on the lap of Dr Walter Rodney as he sat in his brother’s car outside the Georgetown Prisons.
The device was reportedly given to him by an army sergeant, William Gregory Smith, who reports say had been used by the PNC government to assassinate its main political opponent.