High Court in Banjul presided over by justice Ebrima Jaiteh yesterday Monday forced ex-Gambian junta member and former minister Yankuba Touray to enter a plea of not guilty.
Retired Captain Yankuba Touray, a member of the defunct Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC), that brought Yahya Jammeh to power in The Gambia in July 1994, was charged with murder last week.
His charge is in connection with the death of Ousman Koro Ceesay, a former minister of finance, during the time of the junta in 1995.
He was charged with murder, contrary to Section 187 of the Criminal Code Cap 10 Volume 3 Laws of The Gambia 2009.
The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) last month ordered the arrest and detention of Touray for refusing to testify and for questioning the legitimacy of the commission.
When the case resumed Monday, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambedou informed the court that the State intended to file additional ten counts of murder against Touray.
The Gambian minister of justice further argued that the constitutional immunity claimed by Touray should be viewed as a challenge and could not be ignored, while slamming it “as too ambiguous and broad.”
The Attorney General, who appeared with a team of senior State Counsel, further contended that Touray could not arrogate to himself and determine his immunity except in his defence.
Tambadou further challenged that since the Constitutional immunity claimed by Touray was a challenge to the court, the only thing the court could do was to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for interpretation, citing section 127 of the Constitution to strengthen his submission.
He also reminded the court at that point about the state’s intention of filing additional ten counts of murder against Touray while urging the court to adjourn the matter till after vacation to avail the defence all the necessary information to enable them to prepare for their defence.
Responding to the state submission, Attorney for Touray, Abdoulie Sissoho, also urged the court to adjourn the matter to next week on daily basis to speed up the trial.
Barrister Sissoho contended that any amendment in this case was not the fault of the court, arguing that the proposed amendment by the prosecution had no Lexus in this case.
Sissoho further argued that his client had not made any reference to any section in the constitution regarding his immunity.
According to Sissoho, the prosecution can file a suit if they feel that constitutional immunity has arisen but that cannot stop the substantive trial.
Counsel finally urged to the court to grant bail to his client, claiming that the status quo of not granting bail to murder and treason had changed.
In response, the state objected to the application and the matter was adjourned to July 15 for ruling on bail and constitutional immunity for determination at the Supreme Court.
The Voice Newspaper