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Smith probably paid GUY$1 million, safe passage for killing Rodney- ex-cop

Robert Gates (left), Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine and former WPA activist Jocelyn Dow chatting earlier this month during a break in the Commission of Inquiry.

An ex undercover policeman, who said he was hired to infiltrate the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) as a bodyguard for co-leader Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, on Friday testified that he had discouraged then Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Sergeant Gregory Smith from giving party co-leader Dr. Walter Rodney a bomb that killed him 34 years ago.

Robert Gates recalled to Rodney Commission of Inquiry that Smith had told him during a meeting at Parade Ground Basketball Court that Rodney had wanted a high frequency walkie talkie to communicate over a long distance.

He added that Smith said when he informed his superiors, they told him that would have had had the communications device made in Russia and seize the occasion to provide Rodney with a bomb.

“He said his superiors said that they would use the opportunity rather than him delivering a walkie-talkie, they will deliver an explosive device,” said Gates.

Originally named Clive De Nobrega Gibbs while he was a policeman, Gates said Smith said that in return he would have been paid GUY$1 million and free passage out of Guyana. He said he warned Smith, his long-time friend and school-mate, not to do so because his life could have been snuffed out.

“I advised him not to do such a thing because I told him in most cases he would have been killed after carrying out such an instruction,… The same people who gave him such an instruction,” he told the Commission of Inquiry under the chairmanship of Sir Richard Cheltenham.

Gates believed that Smith was reporting to police officer Chico, Deputy Commissioner Laurie Lewis and then GDF Chief of Staff , Major General Norman Mc Lean. Mc Lean has vehemently denied paying close attention to Smith and only knew him as a deserter after further checks had been made on the provision of his regimental number 4141.

Gates said when he learnt of Rodney’s death on June 14,1980 he feared that Smith had carried out the orders. “I heard about the June 14, 2014 that Rodney had been killed in a bomb blast. All of a suddenhe  my mind ran on Gregory and wondered if he had done it. I told him not to give the device to Rodney,” he said.

The Inquiry had so far heard that a GDF aircraft might have shuttled Smith to and from Kwakwani less than one week after Rodney’s death. Smith left for French Guiana where he worked as an electronics technician at a trawler company until his death from colon cancer less than 10 years ago.

The then undercover policeman also testified that he met then Sergeant Gregory Smith at the home of Dr. Walter Rodney.

Gates, said he had accompanied Dr. Roopnaraine to Dr. Rodney’s house where he had seen Smith downstairs around March-April of 1980. While Roopnaraine was upstairs, he said he and Smith had spoken about their duties. Gates recalled telling Smith that he was doing some “undercover stuff” and they arranged to meet the following evening at the Egyptian Lounge, now the Sidewalk Café, Middle Street, Georgetown, “to exchange intelligence”. After Smith told him that he was still a member of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), he assumed that he was also on an undercover mission.

During that conversation at the Egyptian Lounge, he said Smith told him that he had met weekly or twice weekly with the former KGB agent, Brazhned to receive “advanced technical direction”. “On one occasion we were both there at the same time. We did not meet him together,” he said.

Rodney was killed on June 13,1980 when a bomb-in-walkie-talkie exploded on his lower region while he was seated in his brother’s car on John Street a short distance from the Georgetown Prison.