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Gregory Smith’s family moves to clear his name of Walter Rodney’s alleged murder

Lead Counsel for the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, Glen Hanoman

The family of Gregory Smith- the late suspected hit-man in the bomb-in-walkie-talkie explosion that killed Guyanese politician Dr. Walter Rodney 34 years ago- has begun taking steps to clear his name posthumously.

Lead Counsel for the Rodney Commission of Inquiry, Glen Hanoman on Thursday confirmed receiving correspondence from a New York-based lawyer, Edward Meertins George, seeking guidance on the procedures for Smith’s family to submit a “claim of innocence” on his behalf.

Hanoman said the Commission was in the process of responding to Meertins George.

Smith died from cancer in November 2002 in French Guiana where he had been living under the name of Cyril Johnson since leaving Guyana in 1980.

The Commission’s lawyer said Smith’s family was willing to submit a statement about the part Smith played in the alleged murder conspiracy as well as evidence such as recordings.

If the Commission gives the green-light, the New York-based lawyer and his client would come to Guyana for one week.

Sergeant 4141 Smith, a former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) electronics expert, has been long fingered by Walter’s brother, Donald, as the man who supplied the device that turned out to be a bomb in walkie-talkie on June 13, 1980.

The device exploded on Walter’s lower region while he was seated in his brother’s car on John Street, several feet away from the Georgetown Prison.

The GDF has so far told the Commission that there are no records about the status of Smith in the army. There are also no records of a flight by an army aircraft, 8R-GER, that shuttled Smith, a woman and a number of children from Ogle Airport to Kwakwani. Former GDF Pilot, Gerry Gouveia has told the Inquiry that based on photographs he believed that Smith was the man he had flown to Kwakwani.

A number of WPA executive members have already testified that, as part of measures by their party to resist the Forbes Burnham administration, Rodney had been interested in acquiring walkie-talkies to communicate with party members.

Former Chief of Police Intelligence, Senior Superintendent Leslie James said that based on evidence gathered at the time of the probe, Rodney’s death was due to negligence and recklessness because no proper background checks were probably done on Smith whom they only knew as an electronics expert. James said he did not believe that Rodney knew he was in possession of an explosive device. The Police Officer said that based on the file he could not conclude that the State had played a role in Rodney’s demise.

Under the Chairmanship of Barbadian Queens Counsel, Sir Richard Cheltenham, the Commission is also made up of Jamaican Queens Counsel, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown and Trinidad and Tobago Senior Counsel, Seenath Jairam.