Rodney inquiry farcical – Basil Williams

The Walter Rodney Com-mission of Inquiry (RCOI) is resembling more of a farce and is patently lacking in evidence, according to APNU’s Basil Williams who is also the Chairman of the PNCR.

He yesterday stated that “this whole thing turning into a farce, a soap opera” which has damaged the credibility of the COI and in turn had “become an arena of abuse and vilification of many Guyanese citizens who had given meritorious service to this nation.”

Williams, who is one of the lawyers looking after the interest of the PNCR at the inquiry, stated that in fact “after spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars, the RCOI has faltered; there is no evidence that anyone killed the late Dr Rodney. On the other hand there is cogent evidence that Rodney’s death was caused on the occasion of ‘a terrible accident’, according to his brother, Donald Rodney, who is the only eyewitness to his death.”

The PNCR’s chairman continued that in fact Donald Rodney’s account of June 13, 1980 was a matter of public record and what was originally stated was that a terrible accident had occurred. William’s stated that the lack of credible witnesses was undermining the work of the COI.

Williams, who has cross-examined some of the witnesses who appeared at the inquiry, stated that “the testimony of the witnesses has been a chorus line of hearsay, second hand knowledge, opinion, guesswork and generally of statements normally inadmissible in a court of law.”

He zoomed in on the testimony of former House of Israel and PNCR member Joseph Hamilton stating that “I don’t think anyone believes, whether in Guyana or in the diaspora, that he was a witness whose credibility was not shaken”. Williams said that Hamilton has been a member of numerous political organizations and had left them all “bitterly,” so his testimonials had to be questioned in relation to his overall intention.

The PNCR chairman said that witnesses were trying to finger the current PNCR leadership, which was not active at the time. Williams brushed off criticism that the PNCR seemed to latch on to inconsistencies in the various testimonies but did not actively address the very real issues connected to it such as that the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) had supplied the House of Israel with guns and ammunition during that period via the PNC. He said that “Crime Chief Leslie James, Karen De Souza, Major General Norman McLean, and Allan Gates/Gibbs/ Nobrega or whatever, are still to be cross- examined, but their testimonies have been published to the world at large.”

Williams instead focused on the document that supposedly showed the intended passage of weapons from the PNC to the House of Israel. “If you look at the form you will see soldier scratched out, PNC put in and at the bottom soldier again, and that is who handing over, who receiving scratched out and then put House of Israel. Now if you are going to have a transaction of that nature tell me why would you put PNC name on the documents?…That make sense to you?” Williams asked. He said that there was already testimony that made it clear that the documents were cut and pasted prior to their composition and that former head of the GDF Major General (Ret’d) Norman McLean refuted that the signature on the documentation was that of the late Army Major Godwin McPherson.

Williams said that the major pieces of evidence that were introduced to the COI were easily debunked. People could be scandalized, their reputations destroyed and at the end of the day there will be no evidence in the death of Rodney, he said.

The PNC chairman addressed the media during a press briefing at the office of the opposition, however Leader of the PNC and APNU, David Granger was not present for questioning. Granger has remained adamant that his party will not be reversing its position of non-cooperation with the commission because of the Terms of Reference, specifically number four, which he said directs the commission’s attention at him because during the period being referred to he was a commander of the GDF.

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