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.
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.