14 March 2019

Gambia: Potential TRRC Witnesses Pass Away

Two potential witnesses of the Truth Commission (TRRC) have passed away and have since been buried. This sad news was announced at the Commission by the Vice Chairperson of the TRRC, Adelaide Sosseh. The decease persons are Alhaji Kebba Touray and Sheikh Muhideen Hydara.

The Secretary General of the Truth Commission Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow, confirmed to this reporter that both decease persons were potential witnesses who were expected to appear in the later part of the Commission.

Some members of the Commission paid tribute to the families of the deceased by offering both Muslim and Christian prayers during the Commission's sittings.

The late Alhaji Touray, who lived at Tobacco Road in Banjul, was said to have been a business person who runs a clearing and forwarding agency. The late Alhagie Touray is said to have been held incommunicado at the then National Intelligence Agency (NIA) now the State Intelligence Service (SIS) in 2015.

The reason for his arrest was never revealed to late Alhagie Touray's family and Foroyaa learned at the time, that the late Touray had been sick and bed-ridden for six months, prior to his arrest; that he was arrested at around 2pm on Saturday January 24th 2015 at his residence and was held in detention for more than four months.

"Reports have it that in 2009, Mr. Alagie Touray was arrested and later released in the wake of the arrest of Lt. Gen. Lang Tombong Tamba, a former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), and the others," Foroyaa reported in 2015.

On the other hand, the late Sheikh Mohideen Hydara was a caliph of Darsilami Sangajor in Foni Kansala. The late Hydara died on Tuesday March 12th 2019 and was buried at 5pm. The late Hydara and Buyeh Touray, the former Alkalo of Sangajor village, were charged with two counts of disobedience to Lawful order and conspiracy to commit misdemeanor.

Digging into Foroyaa's archive in 2015, it was reported that the accused persons were alleged to have jointly disobeyed the orders of the former president of the Republic of The Gambia, on the 29th day of July 2014, between the hours of 10am and 11am at Dasilameh Sangajor in Foni Kansala, in the West Coast Region of The Gambia, by refusing to perform Eid ul-Fitr prayers on the 28th day July 2014, as announced by the Gambia Radio, thereby committing an offence.

"Both accused persons, however, denied the charges, and were arraigned after spending three nights in detention at various Police Stations. Their case started in August 2014 and lasted for more than nine months before four different magistrates in the persons of Dayoh M. Small Dago, Serending Sanneh, Omar Cham and Ebrima Jaiteh.

They were later acquitted and discharged by the Brikama Magistrate Court on Wednesday May 27th 2015.

In a separate announcement, there was no hearing in the morning of yesterday because the person expected to testify whose name was withheld, did not appear.

Former President Yahya Jammeh who went into exile in Equatorial Guinea in 2017, is alleged to have committed gross human rights violations including detentions and torture without trial, killings and disappearances without trace.

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