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Walter Rodney Inquiry Commission sworn in

Dr. Walter Rodney

A three-member commission was Monday sworn in to probe the bomb-blast death of Guyanese politician, Dr. Walter Rodney at the height of a civil rebellion against the then administration of late President Forbes Burnham.

Chairman of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, Sir Richard Cheltenham, however, said he was unsure when sittings would begin because it all depended on the accumulation of evidence.

With a number of key witnesses either deceased or no longer available to offer testimony, Sir Richard was unsure how much the probe could yield but proffered that based on the available evidence firm conclusions could be made.

At least 100 witnesses are due to testify and several pieces documentary evidence tendered.

Former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Sergeant, Gregory Smith who had given Rodney the bomb-in-walkie-talkie died in French Guiana about 10 years ago from colon cancer.  Smith, who had left Guyana under the name of Cyril Johnson shortly after the incident on June 13, 198, had told the media back then that he had been willing to return and testify if there was an amnesty.

France does not extradite persons to jurisdictions where there is the death penalty. Guyana did not grant the amnesty.

The other Commissioners are Trinidad and Tobago Senior Counsel Seenauth Jairam and Queen’s Counsel Jacqueline Samuels – Brown from Jamaica.

The International Commission of Jurists had almost 20 years ago concluded in an assessment that there was enough grounds to hold a commission of inquiry.

Rodney was a  co-founder of the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) which had been fighting the then Peoples National Congress (PNC) dictatorship.