Former minister Yankuba Touray’s wife has denied that she was away the night her husband was alleged to have participated in the murder of his colleague in the couple’s home, contrary to the earlier testimony of a prosecution witness.
Mamie Minteh Touray insisted that she did not attend a party on the night Gambian Finance minister Ousman Koro Ceesay was killed in June 1995 because she was on a doctor-mandated bed rest and did not leave her home.
She said the doctor had recommended that she rest for six months or risk losing her pregnancy. She explained that she took the doctor’s advice because she had previously suffered two miscarriages and did not want to risk a third one.
Mamie disagreed with Lamin Ndour, Touray’s former driver, who had told the High Court that on that night he drove Mamie Minteh and her family to the house of Edward Singhatey, the then Interior minister.
“In 1995, you were pregnant [with] Edward Touray?” defence lawyer Abdoulie Sissoho asked.
“Yes,” Mami Minteh replied.
“During your pregnancy with Edward Touray, what was your health status?” the lawyer asked.
She responded that she was advised to be on bed rest.
“Did you heed the advice of the doctor?”
“Yes, I was asked not to go out, so I adhered to the doctor’s advice.”
“Until you gave birth to Edward Touray, were you involved in any social activities or events?”
“Yes, I used to go to prenatal [clinic].”
“Up to your delivery in December 1995, did you visit any area in Cape Point in The Gambia?”
“Yes, I went to attend a naming ceremony at Edward Singhatey’s residence after his wife gave birth.”
“After the naming ceremony did you have cause to go there (Singahtey’s residence) for a visit or any other reason?”
“No, I did not go there because I was on bed rest.”
She was testifying in the defence of her husband, former powerful Local Government and Lands minister Yankuba Touray, at the Banjul High Court. Touray has been charged with the murder of minister Ceesay, whose body was found dumped in his burnt out Mercedes-Benz that had been abandoned on a bridge.
The 53-year-old former minister-turned businessman had refused to testify at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, claiming constitutional immunity, and had also turned down a request to plead to the murder charges before the court.
Mamie was testifying for the second day as the second defence witness.
Lamin Ndour, who was Touray’s driver between 1994 and 1996, had told the High Court that he had driven his boss’s wife and family to Edward Singhatey’s residence on the night Koro Ceesay was murdered.
Mamie had earlier told the court that she married Touray in 1991 and that they had their first child the same year. She was the second witness to testify in her husband’s defence before Justice Ebrima Jaiteh at the Banjul High Court. Her elder sister, Awa Minteh, who lived in the couple’s household, was the first defence witness.
Mamie said she named one of her sons after retired Captain Edward Singhatey. Her son was born on December 23, 1995, four years after her first child, Fatoumata, in 1991.
Mamie said as a Cabinet minister’s wife, she had access to a car and a personal driver, Pa Colley. “If I wanted to go out he would drive me and if I was not going out, he used to sit around the house till closing time,” she added.
She explained that Lamin Ndour was her husband’s official driver and would only drive her when she accompanied Touray to official functions such as receptions and Independence Day celebrations.
“Have you at any point in your life been driven by Mr Ndour and Amat Jangum to Edward Singhatey’s house for a party?” lawyer Sissoho asked.
“No,” she replied.
“After the naming ceremony, did you return to Edward Singhatey’s residence for any reason?”
“Did you have a relationship with Edward Singhatey’s wife?”
“We did not know each other until 1996, when we started having a relationship.”
Mamie said she got to know Singhatey’s wife when Tuti Faal, the ex-wife of former President Yahya Jammeh, invited the wives of the members of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) to get together and support their husbands in the elections.
Touray, a former army captain, was a member of the AFPRC, which seized power in 1994.
Awa Minteh had earlier told the court that the council consisted of Yahya Jammeh, Sanna Sabally, Sadibou Hydara, Edward Singhateh, and Yankuba Touray. In 1995, Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara were kicked out. Interior Minister Kabba Bajo and spokesperson Edward Singhateh joined later.
“Can you drive?” Sissoho asked Mamie.
“Yes, since 1990.”
“When you are going to events, who would drive you?”
“Sometimes Pa Colley, but sometimes I’d drive myself.”
The witness said their house in Kerr Serign had four bedrooms, and the other three were visible from her room. Her daughters, sister, maids, and orderlies as well as Adama and Bakary Touray used the three bedrooms.
Mamie said the orderlies worked a two-day shift. The maids were responsible for the household chores while Awa took care of her own room.
The hearing was adjourned to August 5, 2020. Earlier, Mamie had told the court that her family had lived on Tobacco Road in Banjul but had moved to Cape Point in Bakau, then later to Kerr Serign.