Rodney COI: Williams, Commissioners clash over apparent ‘suspension of national laws’

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By Kurt Campbell

Chairman of the Commission Sir Richard Cheltenham (center) flanked by Jacqueline Samuels Brown (right) andS eenath Jairam. [iNews' Photo]
Chairman of the Commission Sir Richard Cheltenham (center) flanked by Jacqueline Samuels Brown (right) andS eenath Jairam. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) Basil Williams has lashed out at the Commission of Inquiry (COI) for what he said was the suspension of Guyanese Laws and allowing evidence that would otherwise be inadmissible in a local Court.

Williams sits on the legal team representing the Party’s interest in the COI into the 1980 death of Dr. Walter Rodney.

Williams raised the objection while the Commission was admitting into evidence two books from Reverend Ruben Gilbert, none of which was authored by him, one of which was published in 1990.

The Attorney – at – Law contended that the investigation into Rodney’s death was a serious one and such evidence should not be allowed since it has the potential to tarnish the reputation of individuals and organization and may not necessarily be true.

He cautioned the Commission to ensure it is aware of the politically charged atmosphere the hearings were being conducted in.

Commissioner Seenath Jairam, said the notion that the Laws of Guyana were suspended was false, adding that he personally took umbrage to Williams’ statement.

He said he had hoped that the well experienced Williams would have appreciated the evidence being tendered and further explained that the Commission could in fact make its own rules and will determine the relevance of evidence tendered.

However, Williams continued on his path, stating further that he was happy the Commissioner recognized his experience and further stated that while the Commission can make rules; those rules cannot eradicate the rights of Guyanese as he pointed to other inadmissible evidence (hearsay, opinions and beliefs) which were so far allowed. He reiterated that it has the potential to sully and destroy reputations for eternity.

On Tuesday (April 29), one witness expressed her opinion that the PNC had killed Rodney.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Jacqueline Samuels Brown pointed out that the COI Act does allow for the Commission to set its own rules of procedure which in the process allows for the setting of rules of evidence.

She pointed out too that in Court rooms, depending on the case, the rules are relaxed and adjusted and it is in a similar manner that the rules of the COI have been relaxed.

Williams seemed unmoved in his position following the discourse and simply concluded by reiterating that the Commissioner must be aware of the politically charged atmosphere the COI was being conducted in and possible consequences.

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