NEW York-based author of the book, ‘Assassination: Cry of a Failed Revolution’, Ann Wagner, promised yesterday to unveil a secret “list of big names” to expose persons involved in the bomb-blast suspected political assassination of world-renowned Guyanese scholar, Dr Walter Rodney.Wagner, under sworn testimony in the witness box at the Rodney Commission yesterday in Georgetown, said she would unveil the list to the Commission, once she got back to her home in the United States.
Wagner spent most of this week in the witness box at the Commission giving testimony to the Commission, as it probes the suspected assassination of Dr Rodney on the night of Friday, June 13, 1980, when a bomb disguised as a communications device exploded in the scholar’s lap, killing him on the spot.
Donald Rodney, the brother of Dr Rodney and the only eye-witness at the scene when the bomb exploded, testified earlier this week before the Commission, claiming that Gregory Smith, Ann Wagner’s brother, gave him the disguised bomb just before it blew up in the car that the Rodneys had driven to Russel Street in Charlestown, Georgetown, where Smith lived and had requested Rodney pick up a communications device.
Testimony at the Commission exposed a sinister nefarious political plot involving the Government of the People’s National Congress (PNC), the PNC State machinery, and the Guyana Defense Force and Guyana Police Force, along with the Joint Intelligence Command located then at Ogle, East Coast Demerara, and a gangster thug cult, the House of Israel, and Smith in an elaborate scheme to maintain PNC Governmental power, which resulted in Dr Rodney’s death.
But Wagner stunned the Commission with a new twist to the tale, claiming that Smith’s character was more that of a quiet altar boy who served faithfully in church, rather than a high-stakes political assassinator.
Wagner said she was close to Smith as his eldest sister, and became his friend and confidante, as he suffered for his whole life, till his death in November 2002 in French Guiana where he lived in exile, from the day Dr Rodney was killed.
Wagner, under cross-examination from PNC Counsel at the Commission, Basil Williams, said Smith never got involved in any PNC political intrigue, nor had any association or working relationship with the PNC Government, the PNC State, or State arms.
Wagner had testified earlier that Smith “liked” Dr Rodney, and was his close friend, and wanted to help the political activist rid Guyana of the PNC dictatorship. She said Smith worked to modify communications devices into “triggering devices” for a scheme of Dr Rodney to “blow up” PNC Government and State buildings and infrastructure, in efforts to rid Guyana of the PNC Government.
The tall, elegant, well-spoken professional woman, who cracked several times under intense cross-examination from Counsel Christopher Ram, acting on behalf of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), which Dr Rodney was leader of when he was assassinated, said that Dr Rodney died in an “accident” because he did not follow “instructions” on use of the device that Smith gave him. Williams said in questioning her that Dr Rodney was “negligent” and this is why the device exploded in his lap. But Wagner preferred to say Dr Rodney did not follow “instructions”.
Counsel did not raise earlier testimony before the Commission of an expert witness, who, like Wagner, has also traveled from New York to testify at the Commission in Guyana, that the disguised bomb exploded when it was remotely triggered.
Instead, Ram established through a lengthy cross-examination that Wagner’s authorship of the book may be questionable, as “several” other persons contributed to its authoring, none of whom provided signed statements, including Smith, who himself wrote chapters and sections.
Wagner admitted that she relied entirely on Smith’s account of the events to construct the book, and believed him explicitly, as his sister.
The witness said Smith told her he did not kill Dr Rodney.
In a short session of cross-examination as the day’s sitting closed, Williams established from the witness that Smith “was never an agent of Burnham, the Government of the day or the State or Guyana”. “That’s true,” she said.
But Wagner contradicted testimony from several Commission witnesses that Smith worked as a double agent for the PNC Government and State.
Williams: You’re clear and your brother was clear that the PNC Government never killed Dr Rodney.
Wagner: That’s true.
Williams also established that Wagner had “no experience in writing a book or investigating stories”, and, in dealings with her brother, Wagner didn’t see the need to request signatures on the manuscript “to believe what he wrote there”.
Wagner takes to the witness box again this morning, under cross-examination from PNC Counsel Williams.
(By Shaun Michael Samaroo)