Sunday, February 5

Lawyer Touray testifies on range of judiciary interference by Jammeh

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Touray, a criminal and civil lawyer, recollected that when the AFPRC was formed, it promulgated and suspended Chapter 4 of the Constitution where rights of citizens were embedded.

“Therefore the Junta gave themselves powers to arrest anyone. The rights and liberty of people were suspended and lawyers couldn’t go to court to request for the release of arrestees.”

The witness said when Pa Sallah Jagne was charged and brought before Mrs. Coke, she couldn’t proceed with the case because of the relationship she had with Pa Sallah and the case was re-assigned to him (Touray).

After going through the case, the witness said, he found 52 adjournments and as a result, he decided to issue notices and gave a fixed date but the State failed to produce a witness.

“The defence lawyers, Ousman Sillah, Ida Drammeh and late Papa Chayassin Secka applied for the matter to be dismissed. At a time the court was filled up by heavily armed soldiers. I asked the soldiers to leave the court and they complied.”

In his ruling, he dismissed the case and ordered that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody as earlier decided by the subordinate court.

The witness revealed that when he was sacked by the Personnel Management Office, he sued the government for unlawful termination and unwarranted interference in the dispensation of justice.

As a result of his sacking which was the first judicial interference by the Junta, he stated that the United Nations and other Civil Society Organisations condemned the action. 

According to the witness, former IGP, FRI Jammeh was the most irresponsible IGP; adding that a UDP supporter was assaulted in Farafenni by an APRC supporter but without investigation, FRI ordered for the arrest and charged the UDP supporter with criminal trespass and assault.

“Major Bojang and Lamin Kaba Bajo were deployed by Jammeh as spies on the ongoing assault case to enable Jammeh to know things about the case.”

Mr. Touray recollected that the lack of independence was not limited to the judiciary and the Gambia Police Force but the Ministry of Justice.

On the issue of the 22nd July Movement, Touray said among the pioneers of the 22nd July Movement were lawyers.

“Sillah Manneh and Saikou Saidy Faye were both charged for fighting in public. They were brought before me at the Mansakonko Magistrates Court and I convicted them. When the news went viral that Sillah Manneh of the APRC was convicted, the APRC supporters mounted my court with APRC flags.”

He further indicated that there was a lot of pressure from the State House on the Mansakonko governor with the prediction that the governor would influence him to do otherwise, adding that nobody went to him for such.

“Surprisingly, the prosecutor in the case was victimised. July 22nd movement enjoyed absolute air of impunity,” said Touray.