– says money expended could have built 10 schools
“The report is badly flawed in many respects,” said President David Granger of the report of the Commission
of Inquiry (COI) into the death of founder of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Walter Rodney.
Rodney’s death has for many years been deemed very controversial thus the People’s Progressive Party/Civic which was in power at the time sought to establish the Commission to bring closure to the matter. The report was last week handed over to Attorney General, Basil Williams.
The handing over of the report was however shrouded in some controversy of its own characterised by a delay in it being handed over to President Granger purportedly because of a lack of printing ink.
According to President Granger, the report has not yet been fully discussed at the level of Cabinet since he was out of the country (in Belize and meeting with the United Nations Secretary General) when it was handed over. He however disclosed that copies have been circulated.
Although unwilling to speak at length when asked about the report, yesterday, he maintained that it is flawed in many respects and that the process has been (flawed) from the start. “We realised the Commission was paying a lot of attention to hearsay evidence, and the most glaring example of the flaw in the Commission’s report is the fact that they decided to accept the evidence of a convict,” asserted President Granger.
The President was making reference to Allan Gates also known as Clive De Nobrega.
The President considered that Gates, who was a Constable in the Guyana Police Force at the time of Rodney’s death, reported verbatim on a conversation between the then President of Guyana, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, the then Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force and two former Assistant Commissioners of Police during the COI.
“They brought a convict out of jail who at the time was a Constable in the Guyana Police Force; he was not present, how did he know what was going on?” questioned President Granger.
He continued “Why should the Commission believe he (Gates) knew what was going on?” The President went on to question the motive of the Commission to facilitate the travel of one of the former Assistant Commissioners, Cecil ‘Skip’ Roberts, who was present during the aforementioned conversation, but failed to give him a hearing.
Roberts who resides in the United States was accommodated at a city hotel for 10 days and was sent away without being asked a single question by the Commission.
“Why should the Commission accept the word of a convict and refuse to bring unto the stand the (former) Assistant Commissioner of Police who in fact was supposed to be at that meeting with former President Burnham and was the chief investigator into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Rodney?” asked President Granger.
“When you look at details of the evidence provided it is clear that the report itself is very flawed and we intend to challenge the findings and the circumstances under which the COI was conducted.”
Even as he expressed his dissatisfaction in the work of the COI, the President pointed out that the COI has cost the Guyanese people a tremendous amount of money. “We could have built 10 schools with the money that was spent on that Commission. I personally gave them three extensions and I think President (Donald) Ramotar gave them three extensions.
“They probably had about six extensions; they were just gobbling up money. At the same time they were not providing the Guyanese people with the truth,” added the President.
He asserted that while his Government had fully supported the Commission’s intended pursuit of truth, “The Commission varied from its mandate and did not give the Guyanese people what they deserved, that is, to say what were the circumstances under which Dr. Rodney acquired a certain device and how that device came to be detonated…That is what we want to know.”
It was only a few days ago that members of the Walter Rodney Commission Seenath Jairam, S.C and Sir Richard Cheltenham, attempted to explain the circumstances surrounding the handing over of the final report of the Walter Rodney COI.
In a detailed statement, Commissioner Seenath Jairam, S.C, reassured that the reason the report was not handed over to President David Granger and to the Office of the Attorney General instead, was because they received instructions to do so, because President Granger was unavailable at the time.
He said that he was advised by the Attorney General to deliver the report to his office.
“As the Commissioners we felt that it would be improper and inappropriate to deliver a Presidential Report to the Office of the Attorney General, and that we should try to discover when the President could receive us.
With that in mind, the Chairman Sir Richard Cheltenham did try twice unsuccessfully to reach the President.”
The leaked findings of the COI have evoked a society-wide debate since it has essentially concluded that under the Burnham era, Rodney was a victim of state violence.
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