Leader of the controversial People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), President David Granger has finally broken his silence on the damning findings of the internationally acclaimed Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry which accused his party of being involved in extrajudicial killings, political assassinations and the intimidation of hundreds of innocent Guyanese at the behest and order of former Prime Minister and President, Forbes Burnham.
Granger, whose party the PNC is also being accused of orchestrating and ordering the death of renowned Guyanese Walter Dr Rodney, was grilled by Guyanese media operatives for answers on Wednesday after several party executives continued to duck questions following the submission and subsequent leakage of the Report.
The PNC leader, who is also the current Head of State and former commandant of the GDF under the Burnham and Desmond Hoyte presidencies, claimed that the Report emanating from the Commission is “badly flawed”.
The President told reporters on Wednesday that he has not had a chance to fully peruse the Report and discuss it with his Cabinet. Nevertheless, he indicated that Government intended to challenge the findings of the Report, which he maintained is flawed.
“I would not like to comment in too much detail in this point in time. The matter has not been fully discussed by the Cabinet … when you look at details of the evidence provided, it is clear that the Report itself is badly flawed and we intend to challenge it. We intend to challenge the findings of the Report and the circumstances under which that Report was conducted,” he stated.
According to the Head of State, it was noticed from the inception of the Inquiry, which commenced while the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition was in Opposition, that the Commission was paying a lot of attention to hearsay evidence.
He noted that the most glaring example of the flaw in the Report was the fact that the Commission decided to accept the evidence of ex-Policeman Robert Gates who was currently in prison.
In addition, President Granger outlined that the Commission also brought one of the persons who were present at that said meeting into the country for 10 days, put him up at a hotel and sent him back to the United States without asking him a question. He was referring to then Crime Chief, Cecil “Skip” Roberts, who was implicated by several witnesses as having a hand in Dr Rodney’s assassination.
“They brought a convict out of jail, who at the time was a constable in the Guyana Police Force. He reported verbatim on a conversation between the (former) President of Guyana, the (former) Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force and two (former) Assistant Commissioners of Police. He was not present so how did he know what was going on and why should the Commission believe that he knew what was going on?” the President queried.
“Why should the Commission accept the word of a convict and refuse to bring onto the stand the Deputy Commissioner of Police, who in fact was supposed to be at that meeting with former President Burnham and also was the Chief Investigator into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Rodney?” the Head of State questioned.
However, the Rodney CoI Secretariat had denied bringing Roberts into the country, saying he came on his own. According to the Secretariat, the Commission wanted to take sufficient testimony from witnesses before flying in the former Police Officer to testify.
Moreover, President Granger pointed out that the Commission of Inquiry has incurred tremendous expenses on Guyanese taxpayers, adding that the money spent could have been used to build several schools.
He added too that despite being given several extensions – three by him after he came into office and three by his predecessor former President Donald Ramotar, who initiated the Inquiry – the Commission failed to deliver what was expected of them.
“They just gobbling up money and at the same time, they are not providing the Guyanese people with the truth. We supported the Commission’s pursuit of truth, but the Commission has varied from its mandate, accepted a lot of hearsay evidence and not given the Guyanese people what they deserve – that is to say what were the circumstances under which Dr Rodney acquired a certain device (and) how that device came to be detonated,” the President remarked.
The probe into Dr Rodney’s death commenced in February 2014 and was headed by a three-member panel – Barbadian Queen’s Counsel, Sir Richard Cheltenham (CoI Chairman); Jamaican Queen’s Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown and Trinidad-based Guyanese Senior Counsel Seenath Jairam.
Three months after the coalition assumed office, the probe was brought to an end, leaving several testimonies incomplete or, as in the case of Roberts, unheard.
The Report was deposited on February 8 at the chambers of the Attorney General as instructed and subsequently conveyed to the President who has not officially released it. (Guyana Times)