Three Caribbean jurists on Tuesday took the Oath of Office before President Donald Ramotar as commissioners who will lead the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of the late, Dr. Walter Rodney, a Guyanese historian and political activist, who was assassinated in Guyana in 1980.
The three-member commission comprises top Barbadian attorney, Queen’s Counsel, Sir Richard Cheltenham, (the commission’s Chairperson), Queen’s Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown from Jamaica and Senior Counsel Seenath Jairam from Trinidad and Tobago.
The establishment of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) was first made by President Ramotar in June last, on the occasion of Dr. Rodney’s 33rd death anniversary as per request by his family members.
The President said that it is the hope of the Government that the work and findings of this commission will bring the conclusion to some of the outstanding issues surrounding Dr. Rodney’s assassination.
Sir Cheltenham assured that the 34-year time-lapse will not impede the commission from making a full exposure of what took place; making reference to the COI into the attempted coup in1990 in Trinidad on which he is currently serving.
“They will advise how ready they are in the process of evidence gathering and how many witness statements they have prepared, and if not, how soon they are likely to have enough prepared so that the inquiry can be started,” the Chairperson said.
The commission is hoping to have over 100 witnesses coming forward in a process that will be open to the public and the press.
Subsequent to the swearing-in, the commissioners met with Police Commissioner, Leroy Brumell, Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Mark Phillips and members of the Private Sector Commission (PSC).
Dr. Rodney a political challenger to the then Forbes Burnham administration was killed on June 13, 1980 when an explosive device that was concealed in a walkie-talkie radio detonated. The device was said to have been given to him by a former GDF Sergeant who later fled to French Guiana where he remained in exile until his death several years ago.