Panafrican News Agency

Gambia Supreme Court dismisses ex-junta member's immunity claim

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - A panel of Supreme Court judges led by Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow has dismissed the constitutional immunity claim by embattled retired Capt. Yankuba Touray, member of the defunct Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) that brought Yahya Jammeh to power in The Gambia in July 1994, for lack of merit.


The ruling on Wednesday by the country’s apex court has paved way for the High Court to continue with the prosecution of the one-time minister, Touray, for his alleged participation in the murder of  finance minister Ousman ‘Koro’ Ceesay.


He is being tried on a single charge in connection with the death of Ceesay during the reign of the junta in 1995.


Touray denied any wrongdoing and since then has been detained at the central prison at Mile Two.


Touray refused to recognize the country's first truth commission, a problem that earned him an arrest, detention and murder charge in July 2019.


He refused to testify before Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) in 2019.


Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the High Court in October 2020 referred the case to the Supreme Court for the determination of the Constitutional immunity clause, after both the prosecution and defence argued over the immunity clause in the 1997 constitution.


Delivering the verdict, Chief Justice Hassan Jallow went through the arguments of both the prosecution and defence and upheld that Mr Touray is not entitled to constitutional immunity as claimed by his lawyer.


The five-panel member of judges led by the Chief Justice, however, did not furnish the court with reason for the dismissal of the appeal but promised to give it later.


Several junta members were alleged to have participated in the murder, including Edward Singhatey and Peter Singhatey but Touray alone is now facing the criminal charge, the allegation he vehemently denied.


During the main trial, the prosecution presented nine witnesses before declaring the closure of their case, while the defence called three witnesses including Mr Touray himself.


If found guilty, Mr Touray could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

 -0- PANA MSS/AR 27Jan2021