A former Cabinet minister has denied sending his guards out of his compound on the night his colleague was killed.
Yankuba Touray said he had no authority to deploy the military sentries sent to his home in Kerr Serign.
He was testifying in his own defence in a case in which he has been charged with the murder of a former Finance minister, Ousman Koro Ceesay.
Prosecution witnesses had testified that Touray sent his guards to the beach before he and several other senior junta officials beat Ceesay to death in his house. Ceesay’s charred body was found in his Mercedes-Benz on Jambur Bridge in June, 1995.
Testifying before Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court on August 31, 2020, Touray said that on the night in question, after speaking to his orderly, Jali Musa Sowe, he went to bed.
“As a minister and a member of the [Armed Forces Provisional Ruling] Council at the time, were you entitled to guards?” his lawyer, Abdoulie Sissoho, asked.
“Who was responsible for posting the guards?”
“Officers from the First Infantry Battalion.”
Touray added that as a minister or council member at the time, he could not deploy the guards, who were not under his command. He explained that if he wanted the sentries redeployed, he would have to speak to the battalion commander, stationed at the Yumdum Barracks. He said guards who moved without their leaders’ orders risked being court martialled for abandoning their duty station.
Touray said he did not know Major Amat Jangum of the Gambia Armed Forces, who had testified that in June 1995, he and his colleagues took the former minister’s family to the home of Edward Singhatey, Gambia’s Defence minister at the time.
Jangum was also the guard commander of the security detail at Touray’s residence.
“Apart from Jangum, did you know any of the guards on duty on that night?”
“I cannot remember,” Touray responded, adding that he did not have any professional relationship with any of the guards at his home.
He said he could not assign the sentries any other duty apart from guarding his compound.
“If something happened, who would the guards report to?” asked Sissoho.
“The guard commander would report to the sergeant, who would then report to the platoon commander,” he said.
He explained to the court that the guards had a logbook in which they recorded all activities, adding that all visitors to his compound were logged into a different book.
Touray said that the following day, a Saturday, he drove to Banjul for a football match, after which he returned to Kerr Serign with his friends for “our usual superkanja”.
The hearing was adjourned to October 5, 2020 at noon, October 12 at 2pm, October 1, 20, 21, and 22 at 2pm, and October 26 at 1pm, when Touray is expected to continue his defence.
When Touray was first charged, he declined to take a plea, invoking what he called “constitutional immunity”, which he said he enjoyed as a member of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC). However, the trial judge entered a not-guilty plea for him.
He had used the same argument when he appeared before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission.