By Bruce Asemota
Magistrate Ebrima Ba Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court is expected to deliver a ruling on Monday on whether to allow former junta member Yankuba Touray to testify in the ongoing criminal trial on the alleged murder of a former finance minister in which he is implicated.
Yesterday, Barrister Abdulai Sissohor appealed to Justice Jaiteh to allow his client, Touray, to testify before the court in the trial involving the alleged murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay in June 1995.
Sissohor made this application in response to State Counsel K Tah’s objection for the court to allow Touray to testify adding that it was late for him to do so.
Sissohor contended that the court is guided by the Constitution of The Gambia, Common Law principles and rules of courts and that both the Constitution and statutes override the Criminal Procedure Code.
He argued that section 23(d) of the Constitution overrides section 240(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code and that Section 24 of the Constitution upheld the principles of fair hearing.
He said even the rules of natural justice and morality grant an accused person the right to speak in his defence in a court.
Sissohor said Section 240 (2) and (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code give an accused person right to speak and referred the court to its ruling of July 15th 2019 when Touray pleaded constitutional immunity.
He said his client is willing to testify and pointed out that the weight of the evidence can only be determined after the evidence had been received.
Sissohor submitted that no proceeding can be held in the absence of the accused, noting that an accused person must be in court for every charge of felony.
He therefore appealed to the court to allow Mr Touray to testify before the court.