Category Archives: Walter Rodney Commission of Enquiry

President’s comments on Rodney CoI testimony inappropriate – Ram

Attorney Christopher Ram yesterday said that President Donald Ramotar’s recent comments on the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the death of Dr. Walter Rodney were inappropriate and validated publicly expressed concerns that the inquiry was set up to serve a political agenda.

Ram said the president’s comments confirmed that his administration is not really interested in Rodney’s killing but more in serving a “narrow political agenda” and such
interventions would undermine the integrity of the commission.

On Friday, Ramotar at a press briefing pointed to the disclosure at the CoI that Guyana Defence Force weapons consigned to the Ministry of National Development since 1976 had ended up in the hands of criminals.

A statement issued by Ram, noted that President Ramotar added that the former President Jagdeo had alleged, several years ago, that weapons had been issued to “Mr. Robert Corbin” who was the then leader of the PNCR. The statement further said that Ramotar made a call for current PNCR leader David Granger to aid in the recovery of the missing weapons.

“As attorney for the Working People’s Alliance (before the CoI) , I find the comments by President Ramotar premature, inappropriate and improper,” Ram declared at a press conference yesterday.

He stated that the president needed to be aware that the CoI has not yet finished gathering evidence, let alone analyzing it, making determinations and issuing its conclusion. “He must therefore desist from premature interventions which undermine the integrity of the commission of inquiry…”

Ram further stated that the “unmistakable inferences” drawn from Ramotar’s intervention that the inquiry was set up to serve his administration’s agenda were becoming “increasingly clear”.

At the commission of inquiry last week, GDF Lt. Col. Sidney James testified that an investigation was carried out in August 2008 to determine whether weapons belonging to the Guyana Defence Force were issued to external organization. The investigation was prompted by the recovery of a number of weapons in the Mahaicony Creek, after a shootout between members of the Guyana Police Force and criminals. James had stated that two of the weapons recovered had in fact been issued to external agencies.

The weapons were issued, under the PNC Administration, to the Ministry of National Development, Office of the General Secretary of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Office of the Prime Minister. Two vouchers dated May 18 and May 19 1976 indicated that the issues were made to and signed for by a R. Corbin.

The issues to external agencies were made during the stewardship of Chiefs of staff Col. Clarence Price, Major General Norman McLean, and Brig. Joseph Singh. James was unable to identify any provision in the Defence Act which authorizes such issues to external agencies.

Ram stated that the PPP/C government had been lethargic in pursuing the return of the weapons since it took office in 1992. He added that under the Defence Act, the Defence Board is chaired by the President. “I have been reliably informed that shortly after 1992, the then Auditor General wrote to Chief of Staff Joseph Singh notifying him of the intention to carry out an audit of the arms and ammunition of the Guyana Defence Force. Had that audit taken place the arms and ammunition that James identified as outstanding, might have long since been highlighted, enhancing the chances of a prompt return,” Ram said.

The attorney argued that the PPP/C government, themselves, were “reckless” in recovering the missing weapons, citing it as “blatant hypocrisy”.

“While hard questions must necessarily be asked and answered concerning the weapons issued to the PNCR, successive Presidents under the PPP/C, including President Ramotar, have failed to treat these serious security breaches in a responsible manner. In fact the PPP/C-headed Defence Board not only failed to act but compounded a dangerous situation by authorizing further issues to external agencies, and for the first time, to private sector companies,” Ram stated.

“It’s frightening that their record keeping is still bad,” he added.

He stated that citizens needed to be concerned about the missing weapons but the matter should not be used by the government or any political party for partisan purposes or to distract from the principal purpose of the CoI—to ascertain the truth about the death of Dr. Walter Rodney.

“It is imperative that we do not squander the opportunity of this Commission of Inquiry not only to seek answers to Dr. Rodney’s killing but to make it the occasion to create a living legacy to his quest for which he lost his life,” Ram said.

When questioned on his views about the extension of the CoI, Ram stated that he was not too concerned about the extension but thought the pace of the commission should be stepped up. The CoI which was scheduled to last for six months, was extended to September 30. However, at recent sessions it was publicized that there would be no sessions in September and it would commence instead in October.

Ram posited that when the six months timeline was set it might have considered a more concentrated form of evidence gathering. “The truth is such a commission of inquiry can go on for a very long time. So while we are concerned, quite legitimately, about money being spent, I don’t think we should.The money we spend is not in vain,” he said. “I think coming out of this would be recommendations on how the GDF should maintain arms and ammunition; how the security forces should operate… so it would be money well spent.”

He further stated that a number of persons could be affected, so it is important that proper rules of procedures be observed “because if you are tarnished here you are tarnished for life.”

Ram hinted that the next session of the inquiry might include the evidence of the family of Dr. Rodney. “But the commission secretariat could change their mind and pursue other persons,” he said.

GDF soldiers to testify in Rodney COI

Several witnesses from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) will appear at the session of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI) which begins tomorrow.

The session was originally scheduled to continue today but the Secretariat of the Commission yesterday issued a press release stating that hearings will instead commence tomorrow and continue on the 30th and 31st July and on the 4th to 7th August, 2014, inclusive.

The Commission apologised for any inconvenience caused.

The names of the persons to testify were not immediately available. Stabroek News has been informed that tomorrow Tacuma Ogunseye will return to the stand and it is hoped that he will be able to complete giving his evidence. Human rights activist Karen de Souza will be the next to take the stand. She has already given her evidence-in-chief and will now have to be cross-examined.

According to a public notice, this session of hearings will end on August 7. In February this year, a three-man commission was sworn in by President Donald Ramotar to probe the death of WPA co-leader Dr. Walter Rodney.

On June 13, 1980, Rodney who was also a renowned academic and political activist, died in a car near John and Bent streets, after a walkie-talkie given to him by now deceased GDF member Gregory Smith, exploded. His brother Donald Rodney who was with him at the time, escaped serious injury. The PNC administration then headed by the late president Forbes Burnham, whose reign had been opposed by Rodney, has long been blamed for the murder. The party, however, has continuously denied any responsibility. The current leadership of the PNCR has publicly said that they will not be cooperating with the COI.

According to the February 8, 2014 Official Gazette, the Commissioners are to examine the facts and circumstances immediately prior, at the time of and subsequent to the death of Dr. Rodney, in order to determine as far as possible who or what was responsible for the explosion resulting in his death.

The Commissioners are to enquire into the cause of the explosion in which Dr. Rodney died, including whether it was an act of terrorism and if so, who were the perpetrators.

Further, the Gazette said that the Commissioners are to “specifically examine” the role, if any, which Smith played in Rodney’s death 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 Rodney’s death.

It also stated that the Commissioners are to examine and report on the actions and activities of the State, including state agencies, such as the Guyana Police Force, the GDF, the Guyana National Service, the Guyana People’s Militia and those who were in command and superintendence of them, to determine whether they were tasked with surveillance of and the carrying out of actions and whether they did execute those tasks and carried out those actions against the political opposition for the period January 1, 1978 to December 31, 1980.

Additionally the Commissioners are to examine, review and report on earlier investigations and inquiries done on and into the death of Rodney.

Among the other persons who have already given testimony are former army chief, Major General Norman Mc Lean, Captain Gerry Gouveia, Robert Allan Gates and political activist Eusi Kwayana.

Gouveia believes he flew suspected Rodney assassin

Retired army officer Captain Gerry Gouveia yesterday testified that he suspected he transported Gregory Smith to Kwakwani, a day after the latter allegedly engineered a bomb blast that killed Dr. Walter Rodney but he said he never saw the need to investigate.

Gouveia has long been said to be the pilot who transported Smith to the Berbice River location from where he was transported to French Guiana.

Smith, a former soldier who is now deceased, is the main suspect in Rodney’s death after it was reported that he had given him a walkie-talkie that later exploded on June 13, 1980.

Gerry Gouveia testifying yesterday

Gouveia, now an aviation and hospitality businessman, was subpoenaed to appear before the commission of inquiry into Rodney’s death and give evidence. The commission granted his attorney Devindra Kissoon permission to lead him in his evidence-in-chief, when he took the stand yesterday at a public hearing at the Supreme Court Law Library.

He detailed his education up to the point of him becoming a pilot in 1977. He joined the Guyana National Service at the age of 20 before pursuing flight training on a government scholarship. On completion of the course, he joined the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) as a cadet officer as part of the arrangement and after serving for 12 years he resigned voluntarily in 1988.

He told the commission that at that time he was a pilot and as is the standard protocol he would log each flight.

Asked about the events of June 14, 1980, Gouveia said that when he got to work, he was given a flight programme by the operations staff. At the time he was a pilot based at Camp Stephenson, Timehri and he held the rank of Second Lieutenant after three years in the GDF.

He said that he remembered there was a man, a woman and some children standing in the hangar. “I was instructed that these people were to be flown to Kwakwani,” he said. He said that while it was the operations staff who would have given those instructions, he cannot remember the identities of those people.

Home > News > Local News > [Videos] Gouveia believes he flew suspected Rodney assassin

[Videos] Gouveia believes he flew suspected Rodney assassin

June 27, 2014 · By · 21 Comments   

Retired army officer Captain Gerry Gouveia yesterday testified that he suspected he transported Gregory Smith to Kwakwani, a day after the latter allegedly engineered a bomb blast that killed Dr. Walter Rodney but he said he never saw the need to investigate.

Gouveia has long been said to be the pilot who transported Smith to the Berbice River location from where he was transported to French Guiana.

Smith, a former soldier who is now deceased, is the main suspect in Rodney’s death after it was reported that he had given him a walkie-talkie that later exploded on June 13, 1980.

Gerry Gouveia testifying yesterday

Gerry Gouveia testifying yesterday

Gouveia, now an aviation and hospitality businessman, was subpoenaed to appear before the commission of inquiry into Rodney’s death and give evidence. The commission granted his attorney Devindra Kissoon permission to lead him in his evidence-in-chief, when he took the stand yesterday at a public hearing at the Supreme Court Law Library.

He detailed his education up to the point of him becoming a pilot in 1977. He joined the Guyana National Service at the age of 20 before pursuing flight training on a government scholarship. On completion of the course, he joined the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) as a cadet officer as part of the arrangement and after serving for 12 years he resigned voluntarily in 1988.

He told the commission that at that time he was a pilot and as is the standard protocol he would log each flight.

Asked about the events of June 14, 1980, Gouveia said that when he got to work, he was given a flight programme by the operations staff. At the time he was a pilot based at Camp Stephenson, Timehri and he held the rank of Second Lieutenant after three years in the GDF.

He said that he remembered there was a man, a woman and some children standing in the hangar. “I was instructed that these people were to be flown to Kwakwani,” he said. He said that while it was the operations staff who would have given those instructions, he cannot remember the identities of those people.

Video – Part 1

He told the commission that the passengers disembarked and he started the aircraft again at 10 am, which would have meant that the aircraft was at Kwakwani for three minutes before taking off again. He said that there was a fence around the runway and that he could not recall if anyone was waiting on the passengers.

According to Gouveia, from the time he left Timehri to the time that the passengers disembarked his plane, he had no conversations with them and if he were to see them today, “I cannot say I will recognise them.” He said that based on the protocol, it was not unusual for pilots not to have conversations with passengers.

He said there was no unusual behaviour displayed by the passengers. “I cannot recall having any kind of concerns or noticing any anomalies that would cause me concern,” he said.

Home > News > Local News > [Videos] Gouveia believes he flew suspected Rodney assassin

[Videos] Gouveia believes he flew suspected Rodney assassin

June 27, 2014 · By · 21 Comments   

Retired army officer Captain Gerry Gouveia yesterday testified that he suspected he transported Gregory Smith to Kwakwani, a day after the latter allegedly engineered a bomb blast that killed Dr. Walter Rodney but he said he never saw the need to investigate.

Gouveia has long been said to be the pilot who transported Smith to the Berbice River location from where he was transported to French Guiana.

Smith, a former soldier who is now deceased, is the main suspect in Rodney’s death after it was reported that he had given him a walkie-talkie that later exploded on June 13, 1980.

Gerry Gouveia testifying yesterday

Gerry Gouveia testifying yesterday

Gouveia, now an aviation and hospitality businessman, was subpoenaed to appear before the commission of inquiry into Rodney’s death and give evidence. The commission granted his attorney Devindra Kissoon permission to lead him in his evidence-in-chief, when he took the stand yesterday at a public hearing at the Supreme Court Law Library.

He detailed his education up to the point of him becoming a pilot in 1977. He joined the Guyana National Service at the age of 20 before pursuing flight training on a government scholarship. On completion of the course, he joined the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) as a cadet officer as part of the arrangement and after serving for 12 years he resigned voluntarily in 1988.

He told the commission that at that time he was a pilot and as is the standard protocol he would log each flight.

Asked about the events of June 14, 1980, Gouveia said that when he got to work, he was given a flight programme by the operations staff. At the time he was a pilot based at Camp Stephenson, Timehri and he held the rank of Second Lieutenant after three years in the GDF.

He said that he remembered there was a man, a woman and some children standing in the hangar. “I was instructed that these people were to be flown to Kwakwani,” he said. He said that while it was the operations staff who would have given those instructions, he cannot remember the identities of those people.

Video – Part 1

He told the commission that the passengers disembarked and he started the aircraft again at 10 am, which would have meant that the aircraft was at Kwakwani for three minutes before taking off again. He said that there was a fence around the runway and that he could not recall if anyone was waiting on the passengers.

According to Gouveia, from the time he left Timehri to the time that the passengers disembarked his plane, he had no conversations with them and if he were to see them today, “I cannot say I will recognise them.” He said that based on the protocol, it was not unusual for pilots not to have conversations with passengers.

He said there was no unusual behaviour displayed by the passengers. “I cannot recall having any kind of concerns or noticing any anomalies that would cause me concern,” he said.

Video – Part 2

He recalled that a couple of days after the trip he saw a picture in the newspaper of a person described as Gregory Smith. “When I saw that pic I felt that the person in the newspaper looked like the man that was on my plane. I cannot recall which newspaper I saw the picture in,” he said, adding that he knew for sure that was indeed the man.

Gouveia stated that because of his junior rank at the time, he never saw the need to probe his suspicion. He was later shown a picture in a book but said that while it looked like the man on the plane that was not the picture he saw. He said that the photograph was taken from a more frontal view.

He said that he had no interest in checking back the passenger list.

Gouveia added that he could not recall reading the article that accompanied the photo but knew that he had read the story regarding Rodney’s brother, Donald, who had been with him when the walkie-talkie exploded. According to him, when he read that article, it left a lot of open questions about what had really transpired. “His (Donald) account was extremely unimpressive from where I sat,” Gouveia said.

He later explained that after reading the interview, he was struck by why Dr. Rodney, an intellect and the leader of a political movement, would take his brother with him in the middle of the night into a back road. He said that based on what he had read about the events of June 13, 1980, he wasn’t impressed that a man of Dr. Rodney’s intelligence did not know how to test a walkie-talkie. He said that one tests a walkie-talkie with words and not with a red light.

Air corps involvement

During questioning by the attorney for Donald Rodney, Keith Scotland, Gouveia said that the flight on June 14, 1980 was a priority flight and that it is no longer an assumption that Smith was on that plane.

Gouveia acknowledged that there was no investigation by the army in relation to the transport of Smith and the police never contacted him to give a statement on the issue.

Home > News > Local News > [Videos] Gouveia believes he flew suspected Rodney assassin

[Videos] Gouveia believes he flew suspected Rodney assassin

June 27, 2014 · By · 21 Comments   

Retired army officer Captain Gerry Gouveia yesterday testified that he suspected he transported Gregory Smith to Kwakwani, a day after the latter allegedly engineered a bomb blast that killed Dr. Walter Rodney but he said he never saw the need to investigate.

Gouveia has long been said to be the pilot who transported Smith to the Berbice River location from where he was transported to French Guiana.

Smith, a former soldier who is now deceased, is the main suspect in Rodney’s death after it was reported that he had given him a walkie-talkie that later exploded on June 13, 1980.

Gerry Gouveia testifying yesterday

Gerry Gouveia testifying yesterday

Gouveia, now an aviation and hospitality businessman, was subpoenaed to appear before the commission of inquiry into Rodney’s death and give evidence. The commission granted his attorney Devindra Kissoon permission to lead him in his evidence-in-chief, when he took the stand yesterday at a public hearing at the Supreme Court Law Library.

He detailed his education up to the point of him becoming a pilot in 1977. He joined the Guyana National Service at the age of 20 before pursuing flight training on a government scholarship. On completion of the course, he joined the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) as a cadet officer as part of the arrangement and after serving for 12 years he resigned voluntarily in 1988.

He told the commission that at that time he was a pilot and as is the standard protocol he would log each flight.

Asked about the events of June 14, 1980, Gouveia said that when he got to work, he was given a flight programme by the operations staff. At the time he was a pilot based at Camp Stephenson, Timehri and he held the rank of Second Lieutenant after three years in the GDF.

He said that he remembered there was a man, a woman and some children standing in the hangar. “I was instructed that these people were to be flown to Kwakwani,” he said. He said that while it was the operations staff who would have given those instructions, he cannot remember the identities of those people.

Video – Part 1

He told the commission that the passengers disembarked and he started the aircraft again at 10 am, which would have meant that the aircraft was at Kwakwani for three minutes before taking off again. He said that there was a fence around the runway and that he could not recall if anyone was waiting on the passengers.

According to Gouveia, from the time he left Timehri to the time that the passengers disembarked his plane, he had no conversations with them and if he were to see them today, “I cannot say I will recognise them.” He said that based on the protocol, it was not unusual for pilots not to have conversations with passengers.

He said there was no unusual behaviour displayed by the passengers. “I cannot recall having any kind of concerns or noticing any anomalies that would cause me concern,” he said.

Video – Part 2

He recalled that a couple of days after the trip he saw a picture in the newspaper of a person described as Gregory Smith. “When I saw that pic I felt that the person in the newspaper looked like the man that was on my plane. I cannot recall which newspaper I saw the picture in,” he said, adding that he knew for sure that was indeed the man.

Gouveia stated that because of his junior rank at the time, he never saw the need to probe his suspicion. He was later shown a picture in a book but said that while it looked like the man on the plane that was not the picture he saw. He said that the photograph was taken from a more frontal view.

He said that he had no interest in checking back the passenger list.

Gouveia added that he could not recall reading the article that accompanied the photo but knew that he had read the story regarding Rodney’s brother, Donald, who had been with him when the walkie-talkie exploded. According to him, when he read that article, it left a lot of open questions about what had really transpired. “His (Donald) account was extremely unimpressive from where I sat,” Gouveia said.

He later explained that after reading the interview, he was struck by why Dr. Rodney, an intellect and the leader of a political movement, would take his brother with him in the middle of the night into a back road. He said that based on what he had read about the events of June 13, 1980, he wasn’t impressed that a man of Dr. Rodney’s intelligence did not know how to test a walkie-talkie. He said that one tests a walkie-talkie with words and not with a red light.

Air corps involvement

During questioning by the attorney for Donald Rodney, Keith Scotland, Gouveia said that the flight on June 14, 1980 was a priority flight and that it is no longer an assumption that Smith was on that plane.

Gouveia acknowledged that there was no investigation by the army in relation to the transport of Smith and the police never contacted him to give a statement on the issue.

Video – Part 3

Gouveia told the commission that he would say that it was the army air corps that assisted Smith from Timehri to Kwakwani and added that he doesn’t know where the commanding officer would have gotten the instruction. The army air corps, he said was then and is still is part of the State.

Cross-examined by Andrew Pilgrim, lawyer for the Rodney family, Gouveia rejected the assertion that on June 17 he transported someone looking like Smith. Despite being presented with two eyewitness statements, he rejected that he returned to Kwakwani on June 14, 1980 in the GDF registered aircraft.

Based on his recollection, he said on June 14, 1980, the first flight was from Timehri to Kwakwani. He said that he started the engine at 9:08 am and landed at 9:57 am. After then, he made two other trips, he recalled. A book, which was identified as Gouveia’s personal log book, was presented to the commission. He said that it was the original copy and that the records were not changed in any way.

He explained that the log had information, such as what time the aircraft’s engine was turned off, the time it landed, type of aircraft, the pilot in command and the airplane registration information. He maintained that his logs were accurate and added that every six months the book had to be lodged with civil aviation. He said that it was also stamped every month.

He said that besides his personal log book, there was one for the aircraft and the records there should match the ones in the control tower. He was, however, unaware of where the records for the aircraft and control tower are being kept.

According to Gouveia, the aircraft book would have nothing to do with the purpose of the mission neither would his personal book. There is a passenger’s manifest that is filled out for each flight.

Gouveia said that today he has no regrets for his actions. He said that he felt a sense of duty to be before the commission to tell the truth. He later stressed that he is now standing before the commission as his obligation and that he never felt any obligation or duty to come forward with what he knew.

He returns to the stand today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=drX3SKdTM2k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mBxo_nF_Msghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wUtwafNQDT4http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_iozEjGD_mU

WPA denies plot to violently overthrow Burnham

… admits acquiring arms but inconsequential

By Tajeram Mohabir

Threatened by President Forbes Burnham’s pronouncements that members of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) should “write their wills” and his “steel is sharper now”, coupled with mounting hostility against his comrades, WPA Executive member Tacuma Ogunseye said the party’s leadership responded by embarking on a path of “regime change” through a Civil Rebellion.

Testifying before the Walter Rodney Commission (CoI) on Wednesday, robed in traditional African garb, an animate Ogunseye told the Commission the wrath of the ruling PNC Government was fuelled by the 1979 burning down of the party’s secretariat on Regent Street and the Ministry of Mobilisation and National Development.

The WPA was accused by the Burnham Administration of carrying out the arson, but Ogunseye, who said before giving his testimony that he has a moral commitment to the Commission, categorically denied his party’s involvement, contending that the WPA was never involved in violence, never killed anyone or physically confronted the Police. In fact, the WPA activist told the Commission based on reports in the state media, the Ministry was torched by armed men dressed in military uniform, but no one knew who they were.

He said at the time, two other theories were advanced for the burning down of the building: (1) It was the brainchild of then Deputy Prime Minister Hamilton Green to instigate a head-on confrontation between Burnham and Rodney and (2); it was an act by person(s) who detested the PNC Government.

Whatever was the real reason, the 62-year-old Kitty Market vendor said President Burnham, who he described as a nationalist, skilled orator and a politician who craved and jealously guarded his hold on power, concluded that the arson was the work of the WPA, and set about exacting vengeance on its members.

Beaten up

He related that WPA members were beaten up, their meeting broken up by House of Israel members and certain elements in the Guyana Police Force for various actions that were deemed unlawful. These, he said included distributing the party’s newspaper Day Clean (this was deemed subversive literature), participating in marches, and the posting of WPA promotional materials in public places.

The WPA leader said arrest was a tool used by the Government of the day to discourage public opposition and to block WPA members from being in constant contact and meeting frequently.

Ogunseye said during the period 1979-1980, he was arrested about 20 times, with without reason and was never charged, except for one occasion where he was convicted. Most of the occasions, he said, he was released with the 72-hour period. He also said that during his years of activism, he was thrown in practically every lock-up in Georgetown and on East Coast Demerara, and like his party comrades, was forced to sleep at different locations to avoid being a vulnerable target of agents of the state.

This vindictiveness of the then ruling Administration, he said, along with the declaration by Burnham that WPA members should “write their wills” and his “steel is shaper now”, caused the WPA to initiate the Civil Rebellion for regime change in the late 1979.

He told the Commission the efforts at regime change included the strengthening of the party structure, building capacity for the execution of covert and overt operations, utilising a system centred around clandestine activities and deniability, the development of cells to map out the strengths and weaknesses of the PNCR Government, infiltration of the security forces, mainly the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the establishment of diplomatic relationships. Dr Rodney, he said, viewed the GDF as an important ally to help him gain power, not by overthrowing the Government, but by desisting from carrying out its instructions.

Disinformation

This is contrary to the testimony given by former Police Constable Robert Gates on Tuesday, who told the Commission that WPA Co-Founder, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine had confided in him that he (Dr Roopnaraine) and Dr Rodney were spearheading an operation to overthrow the PNC Government.

Gates had said that Dr Roopnaraine had discussed the logistics for the overthrow, in which he explained that it would require seizing Base Camp Ayanganna, taking control of the country’s ports of entry and exist, raiding the Office of the President, arresting President Burnham and taking control of the Government radio station. Ogunseye said if this information was indeed disclosed by Dr Roopnaraine, it would have been a deliberate misinformation, and the WPA knew that it was infiltrated by Government agents.

Cells

Back on the activities to facilitate regime change, Ogunseye related that there were 25 cells in Georgetown, all supervised by him with little involvement of Dr Rodney. He said 12 cell leaders were armed with automatic pistols. He was unaware of how they were acquired, noting that his role was only to arrange the delivery. Each cell had three to five members, inclusive of persons who were not WPA members. The role of the cells, the WPA activist said, was to spy on the operations of the PNC Government to protect its members, map PNC hotspots in the city and identify safe havens for WPA gatherings.

The three-month rebellion, he said, included regular public meetings, picketing and marches, some without permission, but all attracting supporters in the thousands.

The WPA Executive said the party’s members and supporters withstood the fury of House of Israel members and elements of the Police Force, without returning violence. He said during the rebellion, the PNC Government tried to engage the WPA members and supporters in street confrontation, but they backed down as they were no match for the PNC supporters plus the Government had the security forces on its side.

He told the Commission too that the ploy by the PNC Government, which had a few leaders accused of sexually exploiting female job seekers, would have been deliberate, to paint the WPA as a violent confrontational group, thereby shifting the focus of the rebellion.   But, he pointed out that the rebellion put a severe dent on the resources of the party.

Reevaluate

This situation, Ogunseye said caused the WPA to re-evaluate the exercise, pointing out too that things were getting out of control. He said the party’s leadership on recognising what was happening, decided to end the rebellion, but did so quietly, so as to ensure that Burnham did not get the impression that the insurrection inflated in its own pressure. However, the WPA activist said that though the party had eased public demonstrations, it maintained its aggression towards the Burnham Government, to underline its intolerance to his authoritarian rule.

He also said that the rebellion was not to create a coup, but make a statement to Burnham, mobilise the masses and lay the ground work for regime change, but said Burnham “killed Rodney” before it could have happened.

WPA had plans to topple Burnham

Allegations at Rodney CoI

… Roopnaraine, Rodney were gathering arms

By Alexis Rodney

Former Police Constable Allan Robert Gates

Former Police Constable Allan Robert Gates on Tuesday told the Commission of Inquiry investigating the death of Dr Walter Rodney that the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) had crafted a plan to overthrow the 1980 People’s National Congress (PNC) Government.

He listed current leader of the WPA, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and the late Rodney as being in the forefront then to topple the Government of Forbes Burnham and were acquiring arms and ammunition to achieve their objective. Since the commencement of the Inquiry some two months ago, the Commission has been hearing about moves by the then PNC Government stifling the opposition, which Gates had opined may have been justifiable after all.

Under a tense cross- examination by PNC’s attorney Basil Williams, Gates told the Commission that the WPA through its leaders; Drs Roopnaraine and Rodney, were fervent in their efforts to rid the country of the authoritarian rule of Burnham. Gates reminded the commission that he had come to know about the plans because he was closely connected to the party. His role as bodyguard to Dr Roopnaraine had provided him the scoop.

Gates revealed that Dr Roopnaraine had confided in him relating that he (Roopnaraine) and Dr Rodney were spearheading the operation. At one time, he said Dr Roopnaraine had discussed the logistics for the overthrow, in which he explained that it would be avoidable to seize Base Camp Ayanganna and take control of the country’s ports of entry and exit. The discussion with his boss also revealed that the office of the President would be raided and President Burnham would have been arrested. Plans were also in the pipeline to seize control of the Government radio station.

In its alleged bid to overthrow the Government, the political party was also involved in acquiring arms and ammunition, Gates said, specifically citing Dr Roopnaraine and his interest in G3 Rifles. He continued, rehashing his earlier evidence, informing that he had sometimes accompanied Dr Roopnaraine to the Corentyne residence of his friend Arnold Rampersaud, which he said was close to the seaside. During the visits a G3 Rifle and a magazine containing close to 18 rounds of .62 ammunition were always brought to them by an unidentified man. He said the items would be collected and they would venture to a secure area on the beach, where he would offer lessons in the use of firearms to Dr Roopnaraine.

Gates told the commission that on at least four occasions, he had accompanied Dr Roopnaraine very late in the evening to collect 7.62 ammunition from persons from various points in the city. Dr Roopnaraine, he noted, had told him that those persons were all members of the Guyana Defence Force. Dr Roopnaraine is now Co-Chairman of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), a political coalition of which the PNCR is the largest group.

Retaliation

The former Policeman said that in furthering the plan to bring down the Government, the WPA may have brought itself into confrontation with the Government, thus causing the retaliation. Williams enquired from Gates whether he thought that the security forces had a right to defend the state in the furtherance of the WPA’s plan. He said yes and also agreed that the State in defending itself against such plans might have had to act in terms of securing the state from certain activities. He also agreed with the PNC’s lawyer that the WPA, in furthering that plan, had brought itself in confrontation with State agencies.

He further agreed that the burning down of the PNC Headquarters and Ministry of National Development in July 1979 was in furtherance of such a plan.

Gates, who is currently serving jail time for obtaining money by false pretence, told the commission that the Burnham Administration had felt threatened by the presence of the WPA, noting that it was public knowledge that the party had infiltrated the Guyana Police Force and Guyana Defence Force. He recalled an incident whereby information had reached the Force that Dr Rodney was receiving information from a senior member of the Force. Deputy Commissioner and head of the Special Branch at that time James Mentore, it was reported, had been meeting secretly with Dr Rodney and would share intelligence with him.

Gates told the Commission too that he had a mandate to file his reports of the WPA’s daily operations and send it to the Police hierarchy. The testimony given by Gates about the WPA’s infiltration of the security forces and plans to work against the Government was earlier disclosed by the leader of the People’s National Congress David Granger, who had stated that the security forces had a responsibility to protect the State.

He had informed that the WPA, considered a thorn in the flesh of the PNC, was retaliating by way of public agitation. Granger, who was Commander of the Guyana Defence Force during the time of Dr Rodney’s death, had said that the security forces had a responsibility to do all it could to protect the State from anything deemed a threat to national security.

Rodney COI…No incentives were offered to me – Gates

By Latoya Giles
Witness Robert Gates, who goes by several other aliases, yesterday denied that he was a witness of convenience and that he was given incentives to come to the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry to lie. According to Gates, he is currently a guest of the State serving a 48-month sentence for the offence of obtaining money by false pretence.

Robert Gates

Under cross examination yesterday by attorney at law Basil Williams, Gates claimed that he had come forward off his own free will to give evidence. Williams then proceeded to question the witness about any prior brushes he had with the law.
Gates was asked about several companies which were all linked to obtaining money by false pretence. One such company was Confidential Investigation Bureau. Williams questioned Gates about whether he had invited the public to donate.  According to Gates, he did, but no one invested.  Gates was asked whether he had collected some $50M from unsuspecting persons who wanted to invest, which prompted the Guyana Security Council to put out several ads alerting persons.
Gates denied any knowledge about this. He was further questioned about who one Simone King was to him. Gates said she is a relative, neglecting to mention that it was a daughter who was charged with him for obtaining money by false pretence.
Moving forward to his present sentence, Williams asked Gates whether he was convicted on 12 counts of obtaining money by false pretence. Gates admitted that the sentence was in connection with 12 counts. He said that he was sentenced in August 2013, but he was never notified of this. According to Gates, he started serving his prison term in January 2014. Gates further disclosed that soon after he started serving his sentence, a relative submitted a statement to the commission. According to Gates, he was later contacted by Commission lawyer Glenn Hanoman.
Williams asked Gates whether he was promised anything for his testimony, to which he said that he was not.
Gates further told the Commission that based on his knowledge and interaction with Former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) member, Gregory Smith, he was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Smith deceived both Dr. Rodney and his brother Donald into believing that he had given them a “walkie talkie” when he knew it was an explosive device.
Gates claimed that Smith had told him that the Army, specifically Former Army Chief, Norman Mc Lean was going to give him an explosive to give to Rodney which would have exploded, killing him. Gates claimed that Smith had told him that the device would have taken three months to assemble. Gates also said that he had spoken to Smith sometime in March of 1980.
However under cross examination, Williams suggested to Gates that he never had that conversation with Smith. Further Williams suggested that adding to the “non-existent” conversation, Smith could not have been given any directives by Former Army Chief Norman McLean, since he was not in the GDF at that time.
Further, Gates admitted under cross examination that he could not confirm anything that Smith had told him. Gates however maintained that Smith did tell him these things and he had even told Former Police Commissioner Winston Felix.
Williams however reminded Gates, that Felix’s rank was not even higher than a sergeant, making his (Gates’) claim farfetched. According to Gates, Felix was aware of his “special assignment to infiltrate the WPA…”
Williams suggested to Gates that he was lying and is trying to finger the “leadership of APNU” in his testimony.
The witness was also questioned about whether they would have records to show that he was indeed a member of the Police Force.
“Ask Former Commissioner Brumell…or Assistant Commissioner Balram Persaud …they know me and they would have all my records” Gates said.
However when contacted yesterday Assistant Commissioner Balram Persaud said that he couldn’t  verify anything that happened in the Police Force in 1978 since he was in High School. Persaud said also that his office might be responsible for records, but he could not divulge that. He said that a request would have to be made for the records.
Attorney at law Joseph Harmon in his cross examination, sought to ascertain what type of training Gates received which deemed him an “intelligence officer”.  Gates told the Commission that he was trained for six months in the basic recruit course, and then he was sent to the “special squad”.
Harmon asked whether he, Gates, would have any evidence of his training and existence in the Force. Again Gates said that all his information would be with Assistant Commissioner Balram Persaud.
Gates also told the Commission that he was sent abroad to the “Rouse School of Special Detective Training” at which he spent nine months.