By Bruce Asemota
Former AFPRC junta member Yankuba Touray, who is standing trial for the murder of his colleague Ousman Koro Ceesay, yesterday mounted the witness box to start testifying before Justice Ebrima Ba Jaiteh of the High Court.
Touray had avoided talking about any event during the time of the Junta, including the death of Mr Ceesay citing constitutional immunity.
He was dramatically arrested and charged with murder soon after refusing to testify at the truth commission last year.
But yesterday, Touray appeared as the 3rd defence witness. He began his testimony with a history of his education and military career.
Touray said he attended the then Muslim High School from 1979 to 1984. He said he joined the Gambia National Army’s intake No. 6 and completed his training in 1986, passing out as a private soldier.
He told the court that in 1987 he was promoted to Lance Corporal, then to Corporal in 1988 and in 1989, he was promoted to sergeant. The following year, Touray said he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and travelled to attend the Infantry Officer’s Basic course in Fort Bellen, Georgia, USA.
Touray revealed that he attended that course in the USA with then 2nd Lieutenant Sanna Sabally and upon his return from the United States in 1991, he was posted to the 1st Infantry Battalion as platoon commander.
He further revealed that in 1992, he was deployed to the 2nd Infantry Battalion in Farafenni and posted to Kundang Infantry Camp as the officer commanding.
He told the court that in 1993, he was redeployed to the 2nd Infantry Battalion in Farafenni.
He said he had known Alagie Kanyi (PW6) as a private soldier between 1987 and 1994 but had never worked with him.
He disclosed that after the 1994 coup, he continued to work with the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant and a member of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC).
He stated that members of the AFPRC were Lt Yahya Jammeh as Chairman, 2nd Lt Sanna Sabally as Vice Chairman, 2nd Lt Sadibou Haidara, member, 2nd Lt Edward Singhatey, member, 2nd Lt Yankuba Touray, member and two ex-officio members in the persons of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice.
Yankuba further stated that in June 1995, he was still a member of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council, whilst the military membership of the AFPRC were chairman Yahya Jammeh, Lt Edward Singhatey, Lt Yankuba Touray, Captain Ebou Jallow and Captain Lamin Kaba Bajo.
Touray disclosed that on 23 June 1995, Chairman Jammeh had to travel out of the country at the time and he was the Local Government Minister and the chairman responsible for the AFPRC projects.
He said it fell on a Friday, and after he woke up, he prepared for the office, joined by his children and sisters-in-law and they were about seven people in the vehicle including his driver, Corporal Lamin Ndure.
He explained that at around 9:00 to 10:00am, he had a meeting with the July 22nd Movement in his office to discuss and finalise a programme of sensitization and mobilization in preparation for the Chairman’s return from the OAU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He told the court that after the meeting, he prepared the minutes for the Chairman but unfortunately he could not meet him during the day for approval.
He said he went to his old family compound on Tobacco Road in Banjul and after the Friday prayers, he picked the kids and went home to Kerr Serigne.
Hearing continues today.