I write to say that evidence from a convict is not automatically barred but, like all evidence, may be acceptable combined with other facts and the circumstances of the evidence itself. I hasten to disclose that I say this as a convict, myself, presenting evidence before the Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI), because Mr Robert Gates (assuming this version of his name is accurate enough) was not the only one in this category (see SN report of February 25, 2016 headed ‘Granger flays Rodney probe report’). Hearsay evidence by a convict should also be acceptable in certain conditions, as could be borne out below in the case of Mr Gates, I believe.
President David Granger in the said report of SN is reported as saying that the CoI report is flawed as it relied much on hearsay evidence, the most “glaring example” being its acceptance of the evidence of Mr Gates about a conversation between the then Prime Minister and other senior members of the Disciplined Services.
After the bomb attack on June 13, 1980 with help from the Working Peoples Alliance, I gave an eyewitness written statement to the Guyana Police and the Guyanese public, which statement crucially included the name Gregory Smith.
Pamela Beharry, a woman without connections, soon came forward at extreme personal risk and gave very specific information on Sgt Gregory Smith. This information, combined with a sustained blitz of fearless investigative journalism by Fr Andrew Morrison and Mike James, both of the Catholic Standard, played the primary role in eventually identifying Gregory Smith as the assailant, beyond any doubt whatsoever.
On the other hand it was the said Head of CID, as the chief investigator, who failed to act on my statement, opting instead to act on a story specially made up by the perpetrators in advance of the assassination, that Walter was killed on his way to launch a bomb attack at the Georgetown Prison.
Hence the charge against me for possession of explosives and eventual conviction in February 1982. Much has transpired since then; suffice it to say that I am still a convict, including when appearing before the commission over four days last year. However the still-pending eighteen month sentence has not altered my evidence, one iota. The commissioners accepted my evidence; and yes, they accepted in part the evidence of Mr Gates, as indeed they are competent to do. It must be within the commissioners’ remit to dissect the evidence brought before them. The point is that there is independent, “glaring” information supporting Mr Gates second-hand evidence on the point: more likely than not, an assassination plot was made and shared at the time he claimed.
At this stage of the Rodney matter, continued attempts to cover up the assassination are flimsy. President Granger should be leading the way on truth and reconciliation for the benefit of Guyana as a whole, instead of appearing to be squandering opportunities to do so.