By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Attorney – at – Law in the ongoing Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI) and Opposition Member of Parliament Joseph Harmon says the Commission’s Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham has revealed his biased and should do the honorable thing and leave.
Harmon, who represents the interest of Ex – Service men and women, was making reference to Cheltenham’s emotive, aggressive and conclusive questioning of Former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Pilot Gerald ‘Gerry’ Gouveia on Thursday, June 26.
Gouveia has admitted to flying an Army plane to Kwakwani on June 14, 1980, the day after Dr. Walter Rodney was killed by a bomb blast.
He said he flew a man, a woman and some children but denied knowing that William Gregory Smith, who is also a Former GDF Member, was onboard.
He admitted that he saw newspapers days later with a picture of a man who looked like the male on his plane.
To this end Cheltenham sought to inquire from Gouveia why he never brought it to the attention of anyone or did his own investigation to find out if he had transported “a killer.”
“We are here to determine those things and the fact that he actually said this man has transported a killer brings out his own personal opinions on the matter and brings it to bear on the Commission,” Harmon reasoned.
Cheltenham opened fired on Gouveia, according to Harmon, for not being bothered enough to have inquired if he indeed transported Gregory Smith.
Captain Gouveia has been accused of flying a military aircraft with Smith to Kwakwani shortly after the Friday, June 13, 1980 death of Dr. Walter Rodney, thereby aiding in his escape.
Smith is accused of giving Rodney a ‘walkie talkie’ which subsequently exploded, killing him.
“This Commission was established to determine the true circumstances under which Dr Rodney died but this morning the outburst by the Chairman has made us very uncomfortable where he has asked the witness if he was transporting a killer. It appeared to us therefore that the Chairman has already arrived at a conclusion. Under such circumstances I think he should do the honorable thing and excuse himself from the Commission,” Harmon added.
He recalled earlier concerns of similar nature when it was learnt that several weeks after Rodney was killed Cheltenham delivered a glowing tribute to him during a memorial service in Barbados.
Sir Richard has said however that no bias should be drawn from this as the two did not share a close relationship.
Meanwhile, Gouveia has said that the Chairman’s questions were in some aspects offensive.
“If you think about him saying that our GDF Officers were transporting killers, our Army is a place I was very privileged and honored to serve and for people to refer to our military like that, that’s unfortunate… I’m not moved by it though.”
He said he intends to speak the truth and nothing but the truth, observing that it was important for him to do is if the country is to move forward.