By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Pilot Gerald ‘Gerry’ 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 was also a Former GDF Member, was onboard.
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.
Gouviea who is now a private Pilot, having retired from the GDF in 1988, claimed he had no conversation with the persons he was transporting; adding that even if he saw them today he may not be able to recognize them since he paid no special attention. He said he received the direct orders to transport those persons from the Operation Staff.
“As a military Pilot, a junior rank, it was not unusual not to have discussions… we operated in a regimental way and we took part in a range of flight operations including transporting civilians,” he noted.
He maintained that there was nothing that caused him to be concerned prior to, during or after that flight and said he only learnt of Dr. Rodney’s death on the night of June 14, 1980. He said in 1980 it was not compulsory to log the names of passengers even as he showed his personal log book to the Commission.
Captain Gouveia who was subpoenaed to appear before the COI said he saw newspapers days later with a picture of a man who looked like the male on his plane.
“At that moment in time, I felt that the man in the picture looked like the man on my aircraft… but I never knew for sure… I can’t say with 100% certainty but there was an anomaly in my mind.”
He said even after he felt that the man [in the newspapers] could possibly be the man he transported, because he was a Lieutenant [Junior Rank] he did not investigate to find out for sure if he was.
He denied categorically that he knowingly provided escape to Gregory Smith; adding that the fact that he may have did not burden his conscience or troubled him at all.
He pointed out however, that the news which surfaced immediately after and in the long after Rodney’s death has left a lot of open questions in his mind.
Even under cross examination and direct questioning from Chairman Sir Richard Cheltenham, Gouveia maintained that he did not know he transported Smith on June 14, 1980 and that he never did much investigation either.
He sought to explain that being a young man and an obedient Soldier it did bother him enough to find out, 34 years ago, if it was Smith that he transported.
He was shown a picture during today’s hearing and admitted that it looks like the man he transported but clarified that it wasn’t the same picture he saw int he press. he said the man he transported was a ‘red man’.
Gouveia denied too that he visited Kwakwani again, Specifically on June 17, with two other men, inquiring about smith.
Gouveia has completed giving his Evidence in Chief to the COI and now stands to be crossed examined.