Kaieteur News – It took almost 40 years for the appeal into the conviction of Donald Rodney to be heard and upheld. That must be some kind of world record.
Donald Rodney was in the car with his brother, Dr. Walter Rodney, when a bomb exploded killing the renowned historian on 13th June 1980. Weeks after the assassination of Walter, his brother Donald was charged with the unlawful possession of explosives.
Two years later he was found guilty after the conclusion of a kangaroo trial. He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. His lawyer filed an appeal but another unauthorised appeal was also mysteriously filed. That latter appeal was heard in the Full Court and in 2010 and was dismissed for want of appearance. The implication was Rodney’s conviction was upheld.
But perhaps of greater significance was the kangaroo trial to which he had been subjected. He had been found guilty even though it was obvious that he could not have known that the item, which he had collected from Gregory Smith and handed to his brother, believing it to be a walkie-talkie, was in fact an explosive device. In fact, no evidence was ever led to establish that the item was an explosive much less that Donald Rodney knew that it was an explosive.
But that was the nature of justice dispensed during a dictatorship. One man has suffered immensely because of kangaroo justice. His job required him to be in good standing with the law before he could be licensed. As such, he could not work in Guyana and in fact had he not gotten political asylum he would have had to serve time in jail.
Donald Rodney was subject to kangaroo trials – this is a feature of political dictatorships. The framing of political opponents and the use of the judiciary to punish opponents of the government is well established in Latin American history.
The PNC regime, which was implicated in the assassination of Walter Rodney, was a dictatorship. And its reach extended to the judiciary to the point where at one time the PNC flag flew over the Court of Appeal.
The WPA, more than any other local political party, ought to have been aware of the dangers which dictatorships pose to the rule of law. The conviction of Donald Rodney would not have been an isolated event in the history of the party.
Eusi Kwayana had in 2015 called for the then Attorney General to take steps to quash the conviction of Donald Rodney. But it is not clear how this was to be achieved since the Attorney General has no powers to nullify any conviction.
In 2017, the party of Walter Rodney had called for the charges against Donald Rodney to be withdrawn. This was a most absurd appeal since Donald Rodney had been tried and convicted in his absence and had even been pardoned by the PPP/C. As such, there was nothing to be withdrawn.
The WPA however suffered political amnesia from March 2, 2020 to August 2, 2020. It refused to see the danger inherent in the attempted rigging of the elections. And to think that it was part of the Coalition which stood to benefit from that rigging.
It saw only the loss of political power, refusing to recall that political dictatorships end up being oppressive against citizens to the point of perverting the rule of law, including through kangaroo trials.
This is why the WPA has no more credibility. It turned its back against the people when it refused to condemn the most blatant and transparent attempt ever to steal an election.
If dictatorship had been returned to Guyana in 2020, the monster would have turned against the very WPA, which refused to condemn the attempted rigging. Guyana was in grave danger because of what happened between March and August 2020. And the WPA was complicit by its silence.
But there is still a postscript to be written to this drama. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Walter Rodney, and at the request of friends of Rodney, not the local WPA, the National Security Archive released documents, which it had acquired on Rodney’s assassination. These documents implicate a former Disciplined Services big wig in arranging for the alleged murderer of Rodney to be flown out of Guyana and to be provided with a job in French Guiana.
The APNU+AFC, of which the WPA was a member, aborted the Commission of Inquiry after evidence emerged implicating Burnham and persons close to the PNC. It is now time to reopen that Commission of Inquiry so that the testimonies of certain persons, who are still alive and kicking, can be heard and those testimonies subject to cross-examination.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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