By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Police Sergeant Robert Gates formerly known as Clive Gibbs today (Friday, June 6) gave testimony before the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI) that former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) member William Gregory Smith was offered $1M and a safe trip out of Guyana to give Dr. Walter Rodney the explosive which killed him on June 13, 1980.
Gates, a former murder accused, who is currently serving a 48 month sentence at the Georgetown Prison testified that Smith told him this prior to Rodney’s death, adding that he [Smith] was an undercover GDF member and was constructing ‘walkie talkies’ for the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) Leader.
Gates claimed that he was at the same time an undercover police, working as the bodyguard for another WPA leader, Dr Rupert Roopnarine and was also offered $1M and a safe trip out of Guyana to bait Dr Roopnarine into a trap that would have killed him.
He said that he met Roopnarine during 1979 while he [Gates] was a Constable in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Special Squad when Dr Roopnarine was arrested in connection with the burning of the Ministry of National Development building.
During Roopnarine’s stay in custody, Gates claimed that Roopnarine asked him to work for him, leading him to resign the following day.
“I accepted the offer because it was very lucrative.”
He added that when he took his resignation to the Crime Chief, who was at the time Cecil ‘Skip’ Roberts, he [Roberts] called the then Prime Minister, LFS Burnham and informed him that “Comrade Leader we have gotten the man.” Gates later explained that he was offered a promotion to Sergeant and an added $500 dollars on his salary to go undercover into the WPA.
The prisoner, who stood in the witness box unshackled, said he was given the code name ‘Condor’ and began gathering intelligence on the WPA, including Dr. Walter Rodney and fed it back to the police which was forwarded to the then People’s National Congress Government.
The former murder accused testified too that he had planted two listening devices, in his vehicle and another at the WPA office, which he claimed provided valuable information to the police.
He recalled reporting to an Officer, whom he referred to as “Chico” and the late Larry Lewis, whom he claimed was Head of the Joint Service Intelligence at the time.
Gates testified that the WPA was at the time collecting arms and ammunition. He recalled too that he was once sent to collect a five pound milk tin which was filled with guns and ammunition and which he later took to his superiors who then told him that it would be ‘doctored’ and any attempt to use it after that would mean it would explode, killing the user.
According to Gates, shortly after this incident, he met Gregory Smith whom he had known previously [sporting an afro and a long beard] when he told him that he was assembling ‘Walkie Talkies’ for Rodney, and subsequently about the offer to kill Rodney which he [Gates] claimed he attempted to discourage Smith from doing.
He claimed that the explosive which Smith was supposed to give Rodney instead of the ‘walkie talkie’ would have been imported from Russia.
Gates told the Commission that he had refused to lure Roopnarine into the trap and had traveled to Sand Hills where he later learnt of Rodney’s death.
“I immediately thought, he [Smith] did it…. I had convinced him not to do it and he promised me he wouldn’t.”
Gate concluded his testimony by telling the Commission that he later learnt that he was dismissed from the Police Force, escorted to CID Headquarters after he returned to Georgetown and subsequently abducted after he refused to go back and continue his undercover job.
He will continue his testimony when the COI convenes its third session on June 23 which will run until July 2.