By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] –Close friend of the late Guyanese Historian and Politician Dr. Walter Rodney and Roman Catholic Jesuit Priest, Malcolm Rodrigues says he believes that Rodney’s death was “clearly planned and carried out by the military and armed forces.”
His testimony was contained in a statement he submitted to the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI), set up to investigate, among other things, who or what was responsible for the explosion that led to Rodney’s death, whether it was an accident or an act of terrorism and the role of some persons and agencies in his death.
Father Rodrigues did not have time to explain or give reason for his statement but will do so the next time he appears before the Commission.
Preceding witnesses have expressed similar sentiments and claimed too that the then People’s National Congress government was behind the June 1980 assassination.
Rodrigues recalled that he was the first person to positively identify Rodney the next day after his death. He said however there were inconsistencies between a media report on the morning of June 14 which quoted the police as saying that a man was killed by an explosive and was unrecognizable.
He told the Commission that Rodney’s face was intact, even his beard; suggesting that the press statement may have been prepared without seeing the body. He assumed through this fact that Rodney’s assassination was planned and it was intended to disfigure his facial features.
He claimed that even a three – year – old could have recognized it was Rodney. The Post Mortem Examination (PME) concluded that Rodney died from shock and loss of blood.
It is alleged that former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) member, William Gregory Smith handed Rodney a ‘walkie talkie’ which exploded killing him, while being an undercover GDF rank and working on instructions from the government, channeled through his superiors in the Force.
To this end, Rodrigues claimed that within 24 hours the man had become a person of interest; saying that on June 14, the Editor of the Catholic Standard, weekly papers, had received a picture with Smith.
Rodrigues, who was a member of the Editorial Board, said the picture was never printed until the next Friday. Rodrigues recalled how the University Council h turned down Rodney’s appointment at the University of Guyana after he had returned to Guyana from Tanzania with his family.
He spoke about how the decision sparked protest and how Rodney came to be affiliated with the then political opposition – the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) – in 1976.
He recalled other protest against wrongdoings in the judicial and political fields and how persons were made to endure victimization, sometimes violent, for either opposing the government or supporting Rodney.