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Discrepancy in report on Walter Rodney’s body- Roman Catholic priest

Father Malcolm Rodrigues S.J. in the witness box at the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry

Roman Catholic Jesuit Priest, Malcolm Rodrigues on Thursday said there was a contradiction between an official media report and the state of Walter Rodney’s body as a result of a bomb-in-walkie-talkie explosion 34 years ago.

He told the Rodney Commission of Inquiry that a radio station had reported at 6 AM on June 14, 1980 that Rodney’s face was disfigured beyond recognition as a result of an explosion on June 13, 1980.

Rodrigues, however, said when he went to Lyken Funeral Parlour he saw Rodney’s face intact but his lower region badly damaged because the device would have been in his lap. Rodrigues, who was a close friend of Rodney and his family, recalled that he later arranged for the late historian’s wife, Patricia Rodney, to view and identify the body.

At the time of the incident, Rodney was seated in his brother’s car, PBB 2349, on John Street, a short distance away from the Georgetown Prison.

After Rodrigues stated that four officials of the United States (US) embassy had visited Rodney’s home to offer their sympathy, Commission Chairman Sir Richard Cheltenham remarked whether the witness was aware that Rodney was of interest to the US intelligence services and they might have gone under the guise of expressing sympathy to confirm his death.  Rodrigues concurred.

The WPA co-founder / co-leader was killed at a time when his party had advocated a civil rebellion against the then Peoples National Congress (PNC)-led dictatorship headed by then Forbes Burnham.

The Guyana Police Force and Guyana Defence Force (GDF) have so far told the commission that key intelligence files and other documents about the 1970s-1980s period have gone missing. The documents include the personnel file of GDF Sergeant 4141 William “Gregory” Smith and the records for an army aircraft, 8R-GER, that had transported Smith to Kwakwani between June 14 and June 18, 1980. Former GDF pilot, Gerry Gouveia, has already told the inquiry that based on his recollection and photographs, he was now more convinced that he had flown Smith, a woman and a number of children to Kwakwani.

Smith, a foreign-trained electronics expert, has long been fingered as the person who had provided the bomb-in-walkie-talkie to Rodney. WPA executive members have already told the inquiry that Rodney had been interested in acquiring long-range walkie-talkies to communicate with persons.

A representative of Air Services Limited (ASL) is expected to testify about the availability of records for that plane which was bartered by the GDF in 1991 to that domestic airline.