Chairman of the recently concluded Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI), Barbados Queens Counsel Sir Richard Cheltenham has refused to address the response of President David Granger on the finding of the investigation into the death of Dr Walter Rodney, but said that it is a known fact that political parties would usually want to protect their heroes.
According to a report in the Guyana Times, during an interview yesterday, Sir Cheltenham said that he would not respond to Guyana’s Head of State or anyone else on the final report of the three-member international panel, but noted that from his experience of previous such CoIs, it is expected that the People’s National Congress (PNC) would want to protect its hero.
“It is a political party and you understand what is happening. The hero of that party was Burnham, so you understand where it comes from…They had an idol”, Cheltenham was quoted in Guyana Times as saying.
The final report of the Commission fingered former Prime Minister Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham; then leader of the People’s National Congress, along with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) as being responsible for the death of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) founding leader on June 13, 1980.
The report only made this information official, as this was part of evidence emanating throughout the 17-month long investigation.
But President David Granger on Wednesday told journalists that the report submitted by the Commission is highly “flawed” since it was based on hearsay evidence.
Cheltenham said he wished not to cause a tit for tat with the President or any other person as it “will not end”.
“We have done our report and it is for the people to comment, including the Government and say whatever they like. And even take it to court. Many commissions have been taken to court. None of this is anything new, you all don’t have a rich history of commissions, it’s only now you all are having a view. Countries have commissions all the time and many of them are taken to court. Sometime on small issues, they would challenge the establishment of the Commission, but none of these is new. I am not disposed to comment on these things,” the Chairman was quoted as saying. .
According to Cheltenham, he is professional in this regard. “This is the ninth Commission for me. Nobody in the region has done more commissions than I have and some of them have gone to court. So all of that are consequences of a commission,” he explained.
The Chairman said it is now up to the public to comment and say “whatever they want”. “We have already said what we had to say, we hope that they would find it as evidence base. It is nothing that I have to get back into. We have done our part. Having heard the evidence, we have made our comments. They can say what they like. It is proper that the people comment”, he said.
He said he was however grateful for the honour to have been part of it (The CoI) which he reminded was followed in the Diaspora and throughout Guyana through broadcast. He said the report should now be the “subject of robust comment and debates”.