President David Granger has described the report of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry as deeply flawed and he believes that it has left Guyanese still starved of the truth even after $500 Million was spent on the Commission by the last government.
The President’s statement came two weeks after the report was left at the Attorney General’s office on the instruction of the President’s office after the Commissioners failed to hand over the report to him at the agreed time.
The report was eventually leaked and seeks to lay blame for Walter Rodney’s death at the doorsteps of the People’s National Congress government under late President Forbes Burnham.
Speaking to the members of the media today, President Granger said the Commission’s report does not address the mandate for which it was established.
He said the Commissioners depended on hearsay and gossip instead of pursuing means through which the truth could have been found out.
“I would like to say that the report is very badly flawed in many respects. From the start we realised that 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. They brought a convict, who at the time was a constable in the Guyana Police Force. He reports verbatim on a conversation between the President of Guyana, the Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force and two assistant commissioners of police and he was not present. How does he know what was going on? And why should the Commission believe that he knew what was going on?” the President said.
President Granger is the current Leader of the People’s National Congress.
He told the media today that a key witness, who was available to the Commission and had knowledge of what would have possibly transpired, was not allowed to testify.
“The Commission brought one of the persons who was present at that meeting into this country for ten days, kept him at a hotel and then sent him back to the United States without asking him a single question. Why should the Commission accept the word of a convict and refuse to bring unto the stand, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, who in fact was supposed to be at that meeting with Former President Burnham and was also the Chief investigator into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. Rodney? So when you look at details of the evidence provided it is clear that the report itself is very badly flawed and we intend to challenge the findings of the report and the circumstances under which that report was conducted,” he noted.
He further added that while Government has expended large sums of money on the Commission and its work, in a pursuit of truth and closure, none of these has been achieved despite the handing over of the report.
“It has cost the Guyanese taxpayers a tremendous amount of money. We could have built ten schools with the money that was spent on that Commission… They are just gobbling up money and at the same time they are not providing the Guyanese people with the truth. We supported the Commission’s pursuit of truth but the Commission has varied from its mandate and has accepted a lot of hearsay evidence and not given the Guyanese people what they deserve. 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,” the President expressed.
The Report was initially supposed to be handed over to President David Granger at midday on February 8, was not submitted at that time because the Chairman of that Commission, Sir Richard Cheltenham, informed the Attorney General, Basil Williams that he had run out of ink while printing the document. This call was made even as President Granger had already arrived to the Ministry of the Presidency to facilitate the handing over of the report.
While President Granger has discredited the Commission’s report, former President Donald Ramotar has praised the report as giving justice to the family of Walter Rodney.
Rodney died from an explosion as he reportedly tested a communications device in a car back in 1980. He was the founder of the Working People’s Alliance and a well respected historian and academic.