By Rohey Jadama
Yankuba Touray has admitted that he knows one of the witnesses who have accused him of participating in the murder of former Finance minister Ousman Koro Ceesay.
However, the former minister insisted that he did not have a working relationship with former Corporal Alagie Kanyi, who had told the court that he watched as Touray and five other people beat Ceesay to death in Touray’s house.
The former Local Government and Lands minister was starting his testimony in a case in which he is accused of the murder of Ceesay in 1995. He had refused to testify before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) and to plead to the murder charge, citing constitutional immunity. He later asked the court to allow him to testify after two defence witnesses had been cross-examined.
Touray had faced two charges of tampering with a TRRC witness, but the proceedings in one of the cases were discontinued. The court discharged him from another matter in which he was charged alongside National Assembly Speaker Fatoumata Jahumpa.
Touray told Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court that the day Ceesay was reported to have died, he had taken his daughter Fatoumata, his sisters-in-law Mariama Minteh and Awa Minteh, and his nephew Adama Touray (his elder brother’s son) to school before heading to work, where he had a meeting with members of the the July 22nd Movement at his office in preparation for the departure of the chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC), President Yahya Jammeh, who was flying to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to attend a summit of the Organisation of African Unity, the predecessor of the African Union. He admitted that Lamin Ndour, the fourth prosecution witness, was his driver.
He told the court that he prepared the minutes of the meeting, but could not meet the president to approve them.
“Since it was a Friday, a half-day, I went to my family compound in Banjul and performed the Friday congregational prayers, after which I picked up the children and drove home.”
Touray had told the court that he was enlisted in the Gambia National Army in 1986, two years after graduating from Muslim High School with an ‘O’ level certificate. He began his military career as a private, rose to the rank of sergeant in 1989, and was promoted to Second Lieutenant in 1990. He did his infantry officers’ course in the United States, from where he returned in 1991 and was posted to the 1 Infantry Battalion as a platoon commander responsible for the Support Team.
In 1992, Touray was redeployed to the 2 Infantry Battalion in Farafenni and posted at Kudang Military Camp as the commanding officer. A year later, he was redeployed to the 2 Infantry Battalion headquarters.
Touray said after the July 22, 1994 military takeover in Gambia, he continued to serve in the Gambia National Army. He explained that he was a member of the AFPRC and listed the others as the chairman, Yahya Jammeh, Second Lieutenant Sanna Sabally (vice-chairman), Sadibou Hydara, Edward Singhatey, and ex-officio members ex-Captain Lamin Kaba Bajo and ex-Captain Ebou Jallow.
The hearing was adjourned to Wednesday, 25 August, 2020 at 10 am, when Touray was expected to continue his testimony.