By Bruce Asemota
Yankuba Touray, a former minister in the erstwhile Yahya Jammeh regime, now wants to give evidence in the murder trial of Ousman Koro Ceesay, his former cabinet colleague.
In June 2019, Yankuba Touray appeared before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) and refused to testify, claiming that he was covered by constitutional immunity.
Soon after, the state filed a murder charge against him before the High Court in Banjul.
Nine witnesses testified in the case and when he was called to open his defense after the prosecution closed their case, Yankuba Touray refused to testify as the 1st defence witness but opted to call his wife Mamie Minteh-Touray and Hawa Minteh, his sister-in-law as witnesses.
However, when the matter came up yesterday before presiding Judge, Ebrima Ba Jaiteh, defence lawyer Abdoulai Sissoho disclosed that the defence was expecting a witness from abroad but was not in court. He applied for the accused person himself to testify.
The move took the court by surprise and principal state counsel K Tah objected to the accused person testifying at this stage of the case.
He referred the court to section 241 sub-section 4 of the Criminal Procedure Code and submitted that the accused person should have testified first before calling other witnesses.
State counsel Tah argued that the purpose of this section is to preserve the integrity of the evidence being provided in support of the accused person’s own defence.
He submitted that Yankuba Touray should not be allowed to testify and argued that the accused person’s application to testify at this point is highly prejudicial to the case having had the opportunity to listen to cross examination of Hawa Minteh (DW1) and Mamie Minteh Touray (DW2).
State counsel Tah submitted that even if the court allows the accused person to testify, it should make an order of determination as to the weight to be attached to his evidence.
Hearing continues today for defence lawyer A. Sissoho to reply.