Former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) pilot, Captain Gerry Gouveia on Thursday said he believed that he might have transported someone fitting the description of a now dead man who has been implicated in giving a bomb in walkie-talkie to political activist, Dr. Walter Rodney, that exploded and killed him 34 years ago.
Gouveia said based on a photograph that had surfaced in the media shortly after Rodney’s death on June 13, 1980 he believed that it was then GDF Sergeant, Gregory Smith whom he had transported to Kwakwani on June 14, 1980. He said the individual was accompanied by a woman and a number of children.
He produced his personal log-book which contained information that he had flown the persons from Timehri on his first flight for the day under the instruction of the Officer Commanding at the time.
Smith died of colon cancer about 10 years ago in French Guiana where he had been living and working under the name of Cyril Johnson since departing Guyana in 1980.
Now representing the private sector on government’s Broadcasting Authority and being Barbados’ Honorary Consul to Guyana, Gouveia rejected suggestions under cross-examination by Trinidadian lawyer, Keith Scotland that he had then flouted the Oath of Allegiance as well as Guyana’s Constitution to protect life, liberty and property. “I stand here and I fulfil my obligations because I did not believe I had any reason, any anomaly (at that time),” he said.
Asked why he did not previously make known what he had observed, the veteran pilot said “I never felt the obligation or duty to do it.” He said he was not going to discuss any aspect of his military obligations voluntarily.
Gouveia said he had only known of Rodney’s death the following day by way of a news cast. He said he had only mildly known of an inquest into Rodney’s death. About whether Smith was involved in Rodney’s death, the former army officer said “Today even as I stand here as a security professional that I am able to say conclusively whether we are talking about a walkie-talkie or device that went wrong,” he said. He noted that remote controlled devices rather than walkie-talkies are not tested with a red light.
Asked by Scotland whether the State of Guyana had assisted Smith in moving from Georgetown to Timehri and to Kwakwani, Gouveia said “No” but a section of the Army Air Corps had done so.
“The army air corps, somewhere in that command structure would have done that but I can’t accuse the State of doing that,” he said. He conceded that the Army Corps is a part of the State of Guyana. Responding to further questions by Inquiry Commissioner, Seenath Jairam, he said either the Commanding Officer or the Commanding Officer was authorised to allow civilians to the army air corps base.
The life of the Commission has been extended until September, 2014.