Jammeh junta ally defies Gambia truth commission

APA-Banjul (The Gambia)

There was unprecedented drama at The Gambia's Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commissions on Wednesday when former military junta member Yankuba Touray doggedly refused to testify despite making an appearance before it.

The former Local Government and Lands minister repeatedly refused to  cooperate with lead counsel Essa Faal to testify after presenting  himself before the commission.

Touray who was recently acquitted and discharged over a contempt case involving the TRRC told the commission that he was invoking his immunity guaranteed by the 1997 constitution as a member of the military ruling council which ruled Gambia between 1994 and 1996. 

An indemnity provision was included in the 1997 constitution guaranteeing immunity from being liable for any act by members of the junta.

Under the law, no member of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council, any person appointed minister by or other appointees shall be held liable or  answerable before a court or authority or under the constitution or any other law, either jointly or severally, for an act or omission in the performance of their official dutues.

In his verbal sparring with lead counsel Essa Faal, a clean-shaven Touray pointed out that although he was appearing officially before the commission he was not going to answer questions pertaining to his term as a public official under former president Jammeh.

He had walked out on the commissioners but was given a second chance by Counsel Faal who visited with him at the TRRC's reception room for witnesses.

After agreeing to appear again and take the oath Touray stated categorically that he was not going to answer questions from the TRRC at which point Faal had warned him of the consequences of refusing to cooperate with the commission.

Touray had left the commission offices under the escort of the police apparently under arrest for possible contempt with the TRRC. 

Since the TRRC began sitting in January Yankuba Touray had attracted several so-called adverse mentions by witnesses called to the TRRC over post-coup executions in 1994 and the killing in cold blood of civilian minister of Finance Ousman Koro Ceesay two years later.

Touray was in court two months ago charged with tampering with a witness to the TRRC but was acquitted and discharged for lack of proper evidence.


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