By Yankuba Jallow and Nelson Manneh
Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court has sentenced Yankuba Touray, a former Minister of Local Government and Lands to death by hanging.
Justice Jaiteh found Mr Touray guilty of the charge of murder as alleged by the prosecution.
Touray was standing trial on a single charge of murder which attracts life imprisonment upon conviction. He was accused of causing the death of former Minister of Finance, Ousman Koro Ceesay which according to the indictment happened at Touray’s residence in Kololi. Touray is said to have used a pestle-like object when killing the former minister. He denied culpability.
The prosecution called nine witnesses who all testified in the case and tendered some documents as exhibits into the records to discharge their burden of prove in the case. The Defence on the other hand called three witnesses including Yankuba Touray.
The Judge held that the prosecution has proved their case beyond reasonable doubt and consequently, he convicted him for the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay, a former finance minister under the military regime in 1995.
Justice Jaiteh held that the piece of evidence presented by the prosecution proves that Yankuba Touray is the murderer of Ousman Koro Ceesay. He held that Touray was a primary participant in the murder of Koro Ceesay.
The Judge relied heavily on the testimony of Alagie Kanyi, a self-confessed killer and an accomplice to the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay. He said Kanyi is a credible and relevant witness, adding Kanyi’s testimony remains uncontroverted by the Defence.
The Judge said Yankuba Touray conspired with ex-Captain Edward Singhatey, ex-Captain Peter Singhatey, Tumbul Tamba, BK Jatta, Pa Alieu Gomez and Alagie Kanyi to murder Ousman Koro Ceesay at Yankuba Touray’s residence in Kololi.
He held that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses corroborated one another on the fact that Yankuba Touray moved his family to the residence of Edward Singhatey on Koro’s murder day for a supposed party.
He adduced that Yankuba Touray was involved in beating the Deceased [Ousman Koro Ceesay] at his residence.
“The prosecution evidence did not only prove that the Accused Person [Yankuba Touray] participated in the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay, but also took part in the scheme to dispose off his [Koro’s] body,” the Judge said.
He stated that the piece of evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses proved that Yankuba Touray, Edward Singhatey and Peter Singhatey burnt the body of Koro Ceesay to cover up their act.
“The Accused Person [Yankuba Touray] and his co-conspirators ensured that no investigation took place in the past two decades,” Jaiteh said.
The Judge asked why was there no investigation carried out in the case, if Yankuba Touray and his co-conspirators have nothing to hide. He also asked why the people who attempted to investigate the were all dismissed from the service.
“The Accused Person [Yankuba Touray] took part in the burning of the body of the Deceased [Ousman Koro Ceesay] to cover up their crime,” the Judge said.
Jaiteh stated that the intention of Yankuba Touray was to cause the death of Koro Ceesay, adding this was why he conspired with Edward Singhatey, Peter Singhatey and others to cause the death of Ousman Koro Ceesay.
He said Yankuba Touray caused the murder of Koro Ceesay with malice aforethought. He dismissed the Defence of alibi by Yankuba Touray that he was not present at the crime scene. The Judge said why Yankuba Touray did not raise this during the investigation by the police, adding the court cannot consider a Defence of alibi that was not previously raised at the time of investigation to give the police the chance to investigate it. On this basis, he dismissed in its entirety the Defence of alibi raised by Yankuba Touray; that he should have raised it earlier at the time of investigation.
The Judge said he was not convinced with the demeanour of Awa Minteh (Yankuba Touray’s sister in-law), Mamie Minteh (Yankuba Touray’s wife) and Yankuba Touray during their testimony.
He reiterated the fact that Yankuba Touray caused the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay. He said all of the witnesses of the prosecution corroborated Alagie Kanyi’s evidence that both the family of Yankuba Touray and his residential guards were not at home on the night of the murder.
“Having found the convict [Yankuba Touray] guilty of murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay in cold blood and having considered that this court [high court] does not have any discretion under section 188 of the Criminal Code, the Convict Yankuba Touray is hereby sentenced to death. Pursuant to section 252 of the Criminal Procedure Code the said sentence shall be by hanging,” the Judge said.
Foroyaa will provide you detail report on the findings of the court in the case once we receive a copy from the Judiciary.