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Donald Rodney was “scapegoat” in Walter Rodney’s death; former GDF Air Corps member to testify about aircraft movement

Donald Rodney’s lawyer, Keith Scotland, cross examines Eusi Kwayana

Working People’s Alliance (WPA) co-founder, Eusi Kwayana on Friday charged that Donald Rodney was made a scapegoat for the bomb-blast death of his brother, Dr. Walter Rodney, 30 years ago to shift blame away from the then Forbes Burnham-led Peoples National Congress (PNC) administration.

Kwayana is basing his conclusion on a statement by Donald that then Guyana Defence Force (GDF) electronics expert, Sergeant Gregory Smith had given him the walkie-talkie on the night of June 13, 1980 but he was unaware that an explosive had been planted in it. Donald’s evidence at the time was that Smith had requested that they both synchronize their watches at 8 PM.

Asked whether he would “conclude that Donald Rodney was made a scapegoat in all of this,” Kwayana said “I think the whole country is of that view”… “Yes, it can be put like that.”

The 89-year old veteran Guyanese politician and educator is also relying on a statement by Smith’s neighbor, Pamela Beharry,  that she had known him to be a GDF Sergeant and that he had had a telephone there that he had specifically instructed his wife, Gwendolyn Jones, not to use. Further, Kwayana is also depending on a statement by an unnamed man from Kwakwani who had gone to the WPA, saying that he had seen a plane land there on June 14,1980 with Smith, a woman and children and left on June 17,1980 on a plane to an unknown destination out of Guyana. Between the movements of Smith, Donald had named Smith with full particulars on June 16,1980.

The WPA veteran said it was a “very reasonable conclusion” that an ordinary person could not commandeer an aircraft without an official order. ““The Guyana Defence Force authorities would have to authorize that journey, that use of that plane,” he added.

Kwayana said that the day after Smith left Guyana, the police had issued a notice in the state-owned Guyana Chronicle on June 18,1980 seeking public assistance about his whereabouts.

Administrator for the Commission of Inquiry, Hugh Denbow later revealed that a former member of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Air Corps is expected to testify about the movement of aircraft on June 14 and 17, 1980.

Denbow, who is Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), explained that that regulatory body only deals with civilian and commercial aviation rather than military aviation. He said in Guyana there is a “type of conflict” whereby the military uses civilian-registered aircraft but from sometimes when there are state or military flights the GCAA would not know their movements.

Kwayana said the GCAA ought to be involved in the flight of the aircraft. “We are looking at something that is clandestine, not an overt official act but something that is clandestine,” he said in referring to the GDF aircraft that had transported Smith to and from Kwakwani.

In a 2007 book “Assassination Cry of a Failed Revolution” by Smith and his sister, Ann Wagner, they claimed that Smith had given them a walkie-talkie to test near the metal wall of the Georgetown Prison but instead he inserted an explosive device.  Smith has also previously told the commission that the first time he had known of Smith’s existence was in Donald’s statement.

Kwayana has previously told the three-member commission that the WPA executives had been acquiring walkie-talkies to communicate among themselves at a time when there had been no cellular phones and the party headquarters in Tiger Bay had been politically deprived of a landline.

Then police bomb expert, Police Superintendent Kendall, had said at a trial of Donald for the alleged possession of explosives that based on the debris and particles the device that killed Rodney had contained explosives and could have been triggered remotely.

Under cross-examination by Donald’s lawyer, Trinidadian Keith Scotland; Kwayana said that Smith’s exit out of Guyana and a lack of investigation and charging of him, also led him to conclude that there was state complicity on Walter’s death. Among the occurrences was the removal of armed police sentry from the four corners of the Georgetown Prison. “That is my whole point. There was State involvement. I put all of that (removal of the guards) into it. With or without Smith’s complicity but I think the people who ordered the removal knew about Gregory Smith’s plans,” he said.