By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – President Donald Ramotar is urging witnesses to come forward and testify at the Walter Rodney’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) as he promised that no one will be criminally prosecuted.
At a press conference on Thursday, March 27, the President said, “We have created all the conditions to bring out the information that no one will be criminally prosecuted on this matter. We have given all the immunities and these are in place so that people can come forward and say what they know. Even if they speak of issues that are of a criminal nature, they won’t be prosecuted on this matter”.
The President also addressed the misconception that the COI was a political move by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government.
He maintained that the COI was established following a request made by Rodney’s widow, Patricia Rodney.
“I know that this has been a blotch on our country’s history so I was glad to be able to help to set up this enquiry so that we can put this behind us,” Ramotar told the news conference.
When questioned, the President could not say how much the COI is costing the government. However, he noted that it “would not be cheap.”
Ramotar explained that the late former President Cheddi Jagan had promised to hold a COI into Rodney’s death, but this was delayed after the government of French Guiana refused to extradite Gregory Smith – the main suspect in the killing of Rodney – who was in hiding in that country. Smith eventually died overseas.
The COI is being chaired by Barbadian Queen’s Counsel, Sir Richard Cheltenham, with the others being Trinidadian Senior Counsel Seenauth Jairam, and Jamaican Queen’s Counsel, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown.
Dr. Rodney was killed on June 13, 1980 when an explosive device that was concealed in a walkie talkie radio exploded in his car.