By Yankuba Jallow
A younger sister of Yankuba Touray’s wife has on Tuesday, 16th June 2020 testified in his murder trial before the Banjul High Court presided over by Justice Ebrima Jaiteh.
Awa Minteh said she is a sister to Yankuba Touray’s wife, Mamie Minteh. She is the first defence witness in the case.
Touray was a long-serving Minister of Local Government and Lands. He was also a member of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) after toppling the PPP 30-year regime. His arrest and subsequent prosecution came after his refusal to testify before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) in June 2019.
The former military officer turned politician was accused of the murder of former Minister of Finance, Ousman Koro Ceesay under the AFPRC reign. The prosecution alleged that Touray used a pestle-like weapon to murder Ceesay in June 1995 at his (Touray’s) residence. Touray denied any wrongdoing as he pleaded his constitutional immunity, but the court entered a plea of not-guilty for him.
Minteh testified that there were two drivers at Yankuba Touray’s residence. She said Lamin Ndour, who was a soldier was the personal driver to Yankuba Touray while one Pa Colley was the driver of his wife, Mamie Minteh.
“Do you know Edward Singhatey?” asked Defence Lawyer A. Sisoho.
“Yes, I do,” Awa replied.
“Whilst you were living in Cape Point with Yankuba Touray, have you ever visited his (Edward’s) house?” Sisoho probed.
“No,” the witness replied.
“When you moved to Kerr Sering have you ever been to Edward Singhatey’s residence?” Sisoho asked.
“No, I have never been there,” the witness retorted.
“Have you and your sister Mamie, Fatoumata Touray (Yankuba’s daughter) and Mariama Touray (her elder sister) visitd Edward Singhatey house while living in Cape Point?” Sisoho inquired.
“No, I have never been there,” Minteh answered.
“While living in Kerr Sering, have you ever been to Edward Singhtey’s house together with Mamie Minteh, Adama Touray (Yankuba’s nephew), Fatoumata Touray and the maids?” the barrister asked.
“No, I have never been there with them,” she answered.
“Have you ever been driven by Pa Colley in 1995 or any other year to Edward Singhatey’s house together with Mamie Minteh, Mariama Minteh, Fatoumata Touray, Adama Touray?” Sisoho asked.
“No, never,” she responded.
“Have you ever been driven by Lamin Ndour in 1995 or any other year to Edward Singhatey’s house together with Mamie Minteh, Mariama Minteh, Fatoumata Touray, Adama Touray?” Sisoho questioned.
Awa told the court that she has never joined the same vehicle with Mamie Minteh, Fatoumata Touray, Mariama Minteh and the maids together with Lamin Ndour and Captain Amat Jangum.
“We have never been with them to a party,” she emphasized to the court.
“When going to the party who normally drives you to the party?” the Lawyer inquired.
The witness said it was Pa Colley who used to drive them, but when it is late, her sister, Mamie used to drive them.
Awa said she used to live with the former army officer turned politician in the same compound before he married her sister in Banjul, adding her father raised Touray up.
The resident of Pirang told the Court that when Touray moved with Mamie to Yundum, she moved along with them and stayed together. She said when Touray and his wife moved back to Banjul, she moved with them.
She said after the 22nd July 1994 military takeover, she moved with Yankuba and his wife to Cape Point in Bakau where they stayed for some time before moving to Kerr Sering where they permanently resided.
She said in Cape Point, Yankuba Touray used to live with his wife, his daughter Fatoumata Touray in addition to her elder sister Mariama Minteh and herself.
She said in June 1995, she was living in Kerr Sering together with Yankuba Touray, Mamie Minteh, Fatoumata Touray (daughter).
She said at Kerr Sering, she was living together with Yankuba Touray, Mamie Minteh (wife of Yankuba), Fatoumata Touray (daughter of Yankuba), Mariama Minteh (her elder sister) and Adama Touray (Yankuba’s nephew) as well as their two housemaids. She said the maids were one Jainaba and Mariama Kujabi.
She said the accused person’s house has four rooms in which one was occupied by Yankuba Touray and his wife, the other was occupied by herself, Mariama Minteh and Yankuba’s daughter while for the two single rooms, one was occupied by the two maids and the other was occupied by Bakary Touray, Adama Touray and any one of the orderlies who was on duties.
“We all lived there permanently except the orderlies who were rotational. The maids were living permanently living with us,” she said, adding “except for Saturdays when one goes for weekends and the other stays.”
The witness said they also have a security guard residing at the compound with them at a room which was formerly used as a garage.
The matter was adjourned to Wednesday, 17th June 2020 at 1 pm for the continuation of hearing of defence witness one, Awa Minteh.