Responding to allegations before the Commission of Inquiry into the death of Walter Rodney that he supplied weapons in 1978 to the House of Israel, former leader of the PNC, Robert Corbin yesterday said there had been much fabrication and perjury.
Former House of Israel and PNC member and now PPP/C Member of Parlia-ment, Joseph Hamilton on Monday told the inquiry that Corbin had supplied him with six 9mm pistols for the House of Israel to protect itself from any retaliation by the WPA.
Corbin told Stabroek News when contacted that “there has been a lot of fabrication and perjury during the Commission…the perjury is to set a political agenda. That is what I have been noticing.”
He said that he would need to time to fully address the allegations that were lodged against him but repeatedly stated that a precedent was being set to promote a political agenda.
During Monday’s hearing of the Rodney CoI, Hamilton stated that “I recall sometime in 1978, six 9 mm pistols were handed over to the House of Israel…by Mr. Robert Corbin at a premises/building where we met sometimes to coordinate these activities in Barima Avenue, (Bel Air Park) somewhere in the Tobacco Company area on the opposite side”. At the time, Hamilton was a member of the House of Israel religious organization and he said that Corbin was in charge of the youth arm of the PNC, the Young Socialist Movement (YSM).
Hamilton stated that that in early 1978, the intervention of the PNC was “to seek the support of the House of Israel because at that time the agitation of the WPA was very much part of daily life in Guyana… and so the government sought the support of the House of Israel”.
During a brief phone interview with Stabroek News, Corbin denied Hamilton’s statements adding that he did not even remember Hamilton’s level of involvement during the period being spoken about. Corbin told Stabroek News that he was not the leader of the YSM and in 1975 he was not at the age where he it would have been acceptable for him to be an active YSM member let alone in 1978.
Meanwhile, current Leader of the PNC and the opposition coalition APNU, David Granger is of the view that the CoI has lost its way and continues to stray from its mandate. He said that many of the testimonies so far are hearsay and specifically of Hamilton’s allegation, Granger stated “he must provide evidence and should have the ability to prove them.”
Granger stated that to lodge such allegations against the former leader of the PNC would mean that Hamilton should have the ability to provide the serial numbers of the weapons that were allegedly handed over and which House of Israel members would have been given each of the six weapons each time they were allegedly rotated.
He stated that the commission’s Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham was allowing the proceedings to continue to stray from its mandate. Granger told Stabroek News that the purpose of the commission was to answer the very relevant questions in relation to who supplied Rodney with the walkie-talkie that exploded and killed him on June 13, 1980.
Granger stated that who was on the other end of the walkie-talkie needed to be found or who Rodney thought was on the other end because “how can a walkie-talkie be used by itself? That is the mandate of the commission.”
He said that “the commission’s first term of reference is to determine the circumstances under which Dr Rodney came to his death,” which he said is yet to be done.
Testifying under oath at a public hearing at the Supreme Court law Library on Monday, Hamilton said PPP leader Dr. Cheddi Jagan and WPA member Eusi Kwayana were the two opposition members the House of Israel were instructed not to touch.
During the hearings, Rodney’s brother, Edward Rodney had testified that the House of Israel was a “hit squad” with links to the police and the then PNC government and among its members was Gregory Smith, the man accused of passing the explosive device to Rodney.