Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - A High Court presided over by Justice Ebrima Jaiteh Wednesday sentenced Yankuba Touray, former member of the defunct Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC), to death by hanging for the 1995 murder of former Finance Minister Ousman Koro Ceesay.
The AFPRC junta brought deposed former President Yahya Jammeh to power in The Gambia in July 1994.
Touray, who once served as the AFPRC's minister for Local Government and Lands, was tried on a single charge of murder for almost two years for his alleged complicity in the killing of his late cabinet colleague and former finance minister Ceesay in June 1995.
Investigators and several witnesses who had earlier testified both at the Truth Commission and court alleged that Touray, in June 1995 at his residence in Kololi,15 km outside Banjul, used a pestle to batter Ceesay to death.
Some witnesses at the Truth Commission adversely mentioned several junta members including Edward Singhatey, Peter Singhatey, Tumbul Tamba, PK Jatta, and Pa Alieu Gomez but only Touray was tried for the murder following his refusal to testify before the TRRC in 2019 to explain the mysterious death of Ceesay.
During the marathon two-year legal battle, the state, represented by the acting director of public prosecutions, AM Yusuf, presented nine witnesses before closing his case while the defence called three witnesses, including Touray.
Witnesses who testified included Touray’s own security orderlies, Ensa Mendy, Amadou Jangum, Lamin Ndure, and the confessed serial killer, Alagie Kanyi.
The case also went to the Constitutional Court for determination of Touray’s constitutional immunity claim which had always been his contention since his first appearance in court.
Touray was able to secure a ruling in his favour but the Constitutional Court, led by the Chief Justice, later dismissed the case and ordered the continuation of hearings without giving details of its decision.
The judgment was highly attended by a cross-section of society including Tourays friends and family members.
The trial Judge extensively analysed the evidence and arguments presented by both parties before delivering his final verdict in a fully-packed courtroom.
Justice Jaiteh said prosecution had established the essential elements of the murder as charged, noting that the confessed serial killer who was the state's principal witness, Alagie Kanyi, was an accomplice and competent witness whose evidence could not be refuted.
The trial judge added that evidence from other state witnesses also supported Mr. Kanyi's testimony.
The judge further observed that it was irrefutable that Ceesay had died and the burnt body that was found in a vehicle was that of the deceased.
According to Justice Jaiteh, Mr. Kanyi's demeanor during his testimony represented a sign of regret.
The high court Judge ruled that prosecution had established its case beyond reasonable doubt, noting that witness testimonies truly depicted the true picture of ‘Koro’ Ceesay's murder.
Justice Jaiteh finally sentenced Touray to death by hanging.
Touray’s defence will most likely appeal against the decision at the Court of Appeal. But until then, Touray will remain in jail at Mile two where he has been detained for almost two years pending the determination of his appeal.
-0- PANA MSS/RA 14July2021