Rodney COI unearths mystery of missing GDF guns that police seized from criminals

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Chairman of the Commission, Sir Richard Cheltenham (right) along with other Commissioners. [iNews' Photo]
Chairman of the Commission, Sir Richard Cheltenham (right) along with other Commissioners. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – When Police seized submachine Army guns from criminals killed in a deadly shootout with cops at Mahaica in 2009, many questioned how the criminals secured submachine guns from the Guyana Defence.

Senior GDF Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Sydney James told the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry yesterday [August 25] that the GDF issued those guns to the People’s National Congress (PNC) Government in the 1970s, along with hundreds more. Many deadly weapons remain missing, never returned to Army stores.

Lieutenant Colonel James’ testimony unmasked the PNC reign as one of heavy militarization of the Guyanese society, with the State handing over GDF military weapons to at least one State Ministry and other paramilitary forces.

In unearthing the fact that heavy military GDF weapons are today still unaccounted for, the Commission would have touched a raw nerve in national security matters.

In fact, Commission Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham noted that, “it’s very difficult to protect a society with so many weapons outstanding. … this is serious matter, that so many weapons of this caliber could be leant out with no follow-up. Your country cannot be safe and secured if there’s no strict control of weapons leant out.”

Lieutenant Colonel James told Sir Cheltenham that he cannot say how the Army plans to find them, as he does not know of any follow-up procedure to secure GDF weapons that are missing.

He said that the Guyana Police Force unearthed guns, from the list of weapons handed over in 1979 to the clandestine PNC Ministry, in 2009 at Mahaica during a deadly shootout with criminals.

Today, however, many other weapons that the GDF issued to the Ministry of National Development, the Guyana Prison Service, the Guyana National Service, the Guyana People’s Militia and other paramilitary organisations that the PNC Government had established, remain missing. The witness said only weapons issued to the Guyana Prison Service show up as returned.

[Extracted and modified from GINA]

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