At last it seems that the lid which has been hiding the criminal cesspool of the Burnham dictatorship in Guyana will be prized open. And Doodnauth Singh, eminent Attorney-At-Law who has been recently appointed Elections Commisioner is the person who will delve into that pandora's box. Guyana's "Trial of the Century" is on the immediate horizon.
Sergeant Gregory Smith of the Guyana Defence Force, the man who allegedly assassinated historian and political activist/reformer, Dr Walter Rodney, will eventually be hauled into court. Since the heinous crime nearby the Georgetown prison in Hadfield Street, June 13, 1980, Smith, after many futile attempts will, at long last, be extradited from French Guiana, where he has been in self-imposed exile after short stays in Venezuela, Brazil and Barbados. He may have been in New York for a short spell as well.
Gregory Smith enjoyed a massive cover-up. It was was skillfully planned but it seeped through the seams from the very beginning. The assassination was expected to so destroy Rodney, especially his face, as to make it impossible to identify him after death. Accordingly, the Sunday Chronicle newspaper and the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation had prepared their Sunday story on the Friday before the Saturday crime. The Leon Saul story claimed that the dead person's face was so battered that identification was impossible That was the plan but it did not happen the intended way.
The story of the cover up was that the corpse (whose identification would not have been cocksure) was that of some unknown person. Any suspicion that the murdered person was Rodney was to be dispelled.
The plan was hurriedly drawn up as a result of the treatment meted out to Burnham at the Independence celebrations in Zimbabwe a few days before. At those celebrations Rodney was accorded a hero's welcome and honored as the genuine leader of the Guyanese nation by most of the world's dignitaries - all in the presence of President Forbes Burnham. Burnham, humiliated and furiously irate, upon returning home, felt compelled to use his "sharpened steel" which he had earlier threatcned to use against Rodney for other (political) reasons. It had become urgent for him to put his premeditated act to effect.
Burnham knew that Rodney had left the country backtrack through Suriname and that he had returned in similar fashion. (At this time Rodney was not allowed to leave or enter Guyana through the normal route.) Bumham, therefore. ordered his henchmen in the press to disarm suspicious people by telling them that Rodney was out of the country so that the dead person could not have been him. The whole plan of the assassination backfired into the face of the planners who obviously included no other than Burnham himself. The facts betrayed the story line concocted by Burnham and publicized by the media which was then completely controlled by the dictatorship.
So, the upcoming trial should be revealing. When, Gregory Smith. Burnham's agent, appears in a Guyana court, under the expert examination by, Doodnauth Singh, Smith should be made to reveal the grizzly details of this macabre crime. Aspects of the internal machinations of the Burnham regime will certainly be revealed in the trial.
Gregory Smith must be made to identify the accomplices of the crime, the person/s who paid him (we understand one million dollars), who chartered the helicopter for his getaway, who kept him where during his flight. As an electronic expert, trained in the United Kingdom, Smith will tell us when, where and by whom the bomb was made and whether it was transported from Miami to his home in Georgetown by Hamilton Green, then Prime Minister, as the rumors suggested, and people believed.
Mr. Singh, the prosecutor should be able to follow his leads without any inhibitions. He should be given all the finance and personnel to go follow the scent wherever it points in order to uncover all those who were implicated. That net, I suspect, will be more long than wide. It will unearth hidden aspects of the nation's history better than any academic research can uncover.
The lead will take us to the National Guard Service (Burnham's private : army) whose Head-man was the present : Commissioner of Police, Laurie Lewis. It is widely believed, and from this writer's experience, Lewis was was probably deep in this act as he was in many nefarious transactions for Burnham, his boss. Lewis should tell the - court how the brothers Rodney, ordinary civilians, were under constant surveillance by his murderous squad. He - should be asked who gave the orders and for what reason. The command structurestructure should be explored. The Smith assassination has had a tremendous impact on the history of Guyana. Thousands of people, ordinary folks, who were hoping and praying that in Rodney's return to the Guyana the country would have been spared further social devastation, fled to foreign climes. Many of these people have quite a few things to say. Perhaps many will be happy to return and give evidence in Guyana's Trial of the Century.