Rodney COI hearings to begin on April 28

Government Information Agency

Press Release

GEORGETOWN (GINA) — The Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI) hearings are slated to begin on Monday, April 28 at the Supreme Court Law Library where testimony and evidence will be received from interested parties to enable them to investigate the death of the late founder of the Working People’s Alliance political party on June 13, 1980.

The hearings are scheduled from April 28 – 30, and on May 2, 2014, a press release from the Walter Rodney Secretariat stated.

The COI, comprising Sir Richard Cheltenham, K.A, Q.C, Ph.D, as Chairman, Mrs. Jaqueline Samuels-Brown, Q.C. and Mr. Seenath Jairam, S.C will examine the facts and circumstances immediately prior, at the time of, and subsequent to, the death of Dr. Rodney in order to determine, as far as possible, who or what was responsible for the explosion resulting in the death of the late historian’s death.

It will also inquire into the cause of the explosion in which Dr. Rodney died, whether it was an act of terrorism, and if so, who were the perpetrators. Further, the Commission will examine the role, if any, which the late Gregory Smith, Sergeant of the Guyana Defence Force, played in the death of the politician and if so, to inquire into who may have counselled, procured, aided and or abetted him to do so, including facilitating his departure from Guyana after Dr. Rodney’s death.

The COI is also tasked with examining and reporting on the actions and activities of the State, such as, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana National Service, the Guyana People’s Militia and those who were in command and superintendence of these agencies, to determine whether they were tasked with the surveillance of and the carrying out of actions, and whether they did execute those tasks and carry out those actions against the Political Opposition, for the period January 1, 1978 to December 31, 1980.

The Commissioners will, in addition, examine, review and report on earlier investigations and inquiries done on and into the death of Dr. Rodney.

The Commission will be accepting original and follow-up statements from interested parties during the life of the Commission, and will be setting subsequent hearing dates to facilitate the commission and attendance of witnesses.

All persons wishing to testify on these and subsequent hearing dates are asked to submit statements of their intended testimony in writing to the Commission. Persons who wish to testify but may need assistance in composing their witness statements will be assisted by the Commission’s Secretariat and are invited to contact the Secretariat at the Supreme Court Library Building, or email

It has been reported that meetings with the Commissioner of Police, Army Chief, political parties, Speaker of the National Assembly, Private Sector Commission, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and trade unions and other stakeholders have been held.

Lawyers attached to the Commission include Mr. Glen Hanoman, Ms. Latchmie Rahamat and Ms. Nicola Pierre, and are currently helping witnesses to put their statements together in an orderly and relevant fashion.

President Donald Ramotar had agreed, in June 2013, to establish the COI following a request from the Rodney family after a previous inquiry ordered by former President Desmond Hoyte, in 1988, found that the historian/politician’s demise was caused by an ‘accident or misadventure’ and that was met with grave disbelief.

Rodney was killed when a bomb exploded in the car in which he was travelling. He was 38 years old at the time, and nine years ago, Parliament unanimously approved a motion to establish a commission to enquire into the circumstances surrounding his death.

The parliamentary motion that spawned the idea of establishment of the Commission of Inquiry stated thus: “On the 13th June, 1980, Dr. Walter Rodney, a distinguished Guyanese scholar, was assassinated by an explosion which occurred in his car at John and Hadfield Streets, Georgetown…Dr. Rodney was, at the time of his death, an eminent political leader engaged in a struggle against authoritarian rule for democracy and social justice…There have been calls for a full investigation into the assassination of Dr. Walter Rodney, which have received broad support.

…the National Assembly, in paying tribute to the memory of this illustrious son of Guyana, and on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his untimely and tragic death, supports an enquiry being conducted into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. Rodney.”

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