– Fr. Malcolm Rodrigues
By Latoya Giles
Another witness in the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI) has come forward to suggest that death of the Former Leader of the Working People’s Alliance was “planned and carried out” by the military forces back in 1980.
Father Malcolm Rodrigues appeared before the Commission yesterday and said that he was one of the first persons who rushed to Rodney’s family and tried to comfort them after the explosion. Rodrigues told the commission that he vividly remembers the day Rodney died.
“It was Friday June 13, 1980….I was at a meeting in Tiger-Bay and we were discussing several issues, soon after I left and went to church and subsequently I got the message that Rodney was killed in a fatal bomb blast,” Rodrigues explained. He said that he was asked by one of the female members of the WPA, to go and collect Rodney’s wife and children.
Rodrigues said that he did so and accompanied Rodney’s wife Patricia and his two children to their South Ruimveldt home. “Seeing them so distraught I decided to stay the night with them, plus people were calling from all over the world,” Rodrigues said.
The witness said that later on the fateful evening, four men, presumably from the United States Embassy, visited the family to offer condolences. He said that the men spent around eight minutes and left.
Rodrigues said that he also remembered that after that visit, the police visited the home. According to the witness, when the police arrived, he instructed Rodney’s wife to accompany the lawmen around the house. He said that he could not recall any search warrant being shown to Rodney’s wife.
Rodrigues also recalled that he was probably one of the first persons to positively identify Rodney the next day after his death. According to the witness, there were some 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.
Rodrigues said that when he went to the mortuary he was prepared to see a body that 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 killing 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.
The COI was established to examine the facts and circumstances immediately prior, at the time of, and subsequent to, the death of Dr. Walter Rodney in order to determine, as far as possible, who or what was responsible for the explosion resulting in the death of Dr. Walter Rodney;
Commissioners Sir Richard Cheltenham, Seenath Jairam, and Jacqueline Samuels-Brown have been tasked with inquiring into the cause of the explosion in which Rodney died, whether it was an act of terrorism, and if so, who were the perpetrators.
Secondly, they also have to specifically examine the role, if any, which the late Gregory Smith, Sergeant of the Guyana Defence Force, played in the death of Dr. Walter Rodney and if so, to inquire into who may have counseled, procured, aided and/or abetted him to do so, including facilitating his departure from Guyana after Dr. Walter Rodney’s death;
Commissioners will also have to examine and report on the actions and activities of State entities, such as the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana National Service, the Guyana People’s Militia, and those who were in command and superintendence of these agencies, to determine whether they were tasked with the surveillance of and the carrying out of actions, and whether they did execute those tasks and if they carried out those actions against the Political Opposition, for the period 1st January, 1978 to 31st December, 1980.
Dr. Walter Rodney was killed on Friday, June 13, 1980, after a bomb exploded while he sat in his brother’s car on John Street, Werk-en-Rust, outside the Georgetown Prisons.
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