PNCR leader David Granger says that he and his party will not be reversing their position of non-cooperation with the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the death of historian Dr Walter Rodney, although he was named during recent testimony.
Granger was named during the testimony of former army chief-of-staff Major General (retired) Norman McLean last Thursday. McLean said during the period 1979 to 1980 Granger was the commander of Camp Ayanganna. The commission has so far heard testimony that the army had supplied the House of Israel with guns and ammunition during that period.
Granger told Stabroek News yesterday that he had written to the president and the commission’s chairman indicating that his party will not be cooperating with the CoI, in the light of the Terms of Reference (ToR), 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 Guyana Defence Force.
The ToR that Granger is referring to states that the commissioners are to examine and report on the actions and activities of state agencies, such as the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana National Service, the Guyana People’s Militia and those who were in command and superintendence of these agencies , to determine whether they were tasked with surveillance of and the carrying out of actions and whether they did execute those tasks and carried out those actions against the political opposition for the period January 1, 1978 to December 31, 1980.
The opposition leader made the point that three quarters of the time set aside for the commission to present a report is almost finished and all that has been presented so far is hearsay. “They are no closer to the truth… June 25 is coming up,” he said.
“We can see what a mess it is already. They have exhausted the majority of the time that has been allocated to them and they have not dealt with the actual circumstances surrounding the death…,” he said, before stressing that he doesn’t see any grounds for the party changing its position. “I hope that they can stop wasting time and pay attention to their mandate. I will not be changing my position.”
Granger told this newspaper that he has heard that his name was called. “Reference to my involvement is erroneous and misleading,” he added.
Asked if the commission has contacted him about testifying, he responded in the negative.
Meanwhile, the head of the Commission’s Secretariat Hugh Denbow explained to Stabroek News yesterday that a person who is deemed important to the CoI does not have to be necessarily contacted before being subpoenaed.
He explained that the research officers may identify people who are seen as potentially helpful to the commission and contact will then be made with those persons, who would be invited to give a statement and testify. He said that other persons volunteer and attend.
Denbow pointed out that while persons are contacted, it doesn’t necessarily have to work that way and the commission can go ahead and issue a subpoena for their attendance without any notice.
Asked what occurred in the case of McLean, he could not say whether he was contacted. McLean, during his testimony last Thursday, made it known that he was not happy with being subpoenaed when no one even had a conversation with him.
“You can just be subpoenaed. We do not have to contact a person. Contacting is not necessary,” Denbow said, adding that the secretariat has written to several persons who he would not name and those persons have indicated that they will not be coming before the commission. Denbow said that these persons will be subpoenaed.
Besides McLean, Captain Gerry Gouveia has also been subpoenaed. Mc Lean said during his testimony that Gouveia told him that he was subpoenaed to testify about “the plane” reportedly used to transport the main suspect, Gregory Smith, to Kwakwani after Rodney’s death.
According to the Commissions of Inquiry Act, the commissioners have the powers of a judge of the High Court to summon witnesses. The Act states that all persons summoned “shall be bound to obey the summons served upon them as fully in all respects as witnesses are bound to obey subpoenas issues from the High Court and shall be entitled to the like expenses as if they had been summoned to attend the High Court on the criminal trial….” It states too that every person refusing or omitting without sufficient cause to attend at the time and place mentioned in the summons served on him shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $32,500 and to imprisonment for six months.
Asked about the list of persons scheduled to appear during the next session, which will run from June 23 to July 2, Denbow said that Mclean, Gates, Crime Chief Leslie James and Karen De Souza will be returning to complete their evidence. He said other witnesses, including persons from overseas, may also appear but the list has not yet been finalised.