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Joe Hamilton says GDF officer trained him in bomb-making; GDF arms passed thru PNC to House of Israel

Joe Hamilton testifies before the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry about his experiences as a House of Israel elder (GINA photo)

Former elder of the House of Israel cult, Joseph Hamilton on Tuesday told the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry that he was trained in bomb-making by a senior Guyana Defence Force (GDF) officer.

The Commission also heard reference being made to a police intelligence file which contained aan arms requisition/delivery form bearing the purported signatures of then former GDF Major Mc Pherson and someone from the House of Israel showing that a cache of arms and ammunition had been handed over to the then governing Peoples National Congress (PNC). Hamilton has previously testified that the House of Israel and the PNC’s youth arm had coordinated the breaking up of opposition political meetings and the beating up of Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) activists.

The list included 19 G3 rifles, 19 G3 bayonets, several rounds of 7.62MM ammunition, 10 Browning pistols and five hundred rounds of 9MM ammunition.

Hamilton said he could not recognise the signature of the person who signed the document on June 24, 1979 on behalf of the House of Israel.

A GDF officer is expected to be called by the three-member Commission to testify.

Hamilton, who is a former PNC executive member,  also told the Commission on Tuesday late PNC member Robert Williams had also provided four .38 service revolvers to specific “brothers” of the House of Israel to protect that organisation against possible WPA retaliation after a cult member, Bilal Ato, had killed Roman Catholic priest, Father Bernard Darke during agitation on Brickdam back in 1979.

He said that he and other House of Israel members had been trained in firearm use by then current and former soldiers and police who had been also members of that cult that was led by American fugitive David Hill alias Rabbi Edward Washington. At no time, Hamilton said, was he fearful of  being arrested for being in possession of an illegal firearm. “I had no fear of being arrested because the House of Israel, we were being protected by the government of the day… so I felt any way threatened carrying a firearm,” he said.

Now a Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Hamilton said he was trained by a now ex GDF officer to make bombs but he was unsure whether it was a direct order or through a relationship between that officer and his brother who was a House of Israel member.

Hamilton also told the Commission of Inquiry that among the frequent visitors to Rabbi Washington were then Police Officer, Vernon Gentle; then Home Affairs Minister, Stanley Moore; PNC big-wig, Agnes Benn-Kirton – who faithfully collected weekly hampers from the House of Israel-and several other prominent persons.

The former House of Israel member further testified that House of Israel members had been used as scabs during strikes in the sugar belt to minimise loss of production.

WPA activists, Karen De Souza and Eusi Kwayana, as well as then opposition activist, Eddie Rodney, have all testified that the House of Israel had been involved in attacking opponents to the PNC administration during the 1970s and 1980s. Hamilton’s testimony has so far corroborated those claims.

Dr. Walter Rodney was killed on June 13,1980 when a bomb-in-walkie-talkie exploded n his lower region while he was sitting in his brother’s car on John Street a short distance from the Georgetown Prison.  The device had been supplied by then GDF Sergeant Gregory Smith earlier that night to Walter and his brother, Donald, for them to test near the metal fence of thejail.

Kwayana has said in his testimony that he never knew of Smith until his name was mentioned in statements by Donald and Smith’s neighbour, Pamela Beharry.  Kwayana has also said he was aware that the WPA leadership had been procuring walkie talkies to communicate effectively especially in monitoring police movements during protests.  A number of walkie talkies were found at Walter’s home by police shortly after he was killed.

Smith died less than 10 years ago in French Guiana to where he had escaped just days after Rodney’s death.