By Lamin Njie
The subpoenaing of Yankuba Touray by the TRRC turned chaotic when the former AFPRC junta leader stormed out of the hearing room of the investigation.
Yankuba Touray was at the centre of dramatic scenes on Wednesday after he was subpoenaed by the TRRC to testify to the commission.
Drama started as early as 10:00am when Mr Touray first reported to the commission, engaging in a long back and forth with TRRC officials. During the standoff, Touray made it clear he was not comfortable testifying publicly.
At about 11:30am, Touray finally came out of the witness room and took his seat in the hearing room but once asked by the TRRC counsel Essa Faal to stand up to swear to the Quran, Touray refused. Touray then sat and said, “Mr chairman, I think we have a problem. I am leaving”
The chairman of the commission Lamin Sise read a statement shortly after Touray stormed out, saying: “The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission has issued multiple subpoenas to Mr Yankuba Touray to appear before the commission to testify as a person adversely mentioned for his involvement in human rights violations between 1994 and 1996.
Chaiman Sise then added: “All those subpoenas were postponed and the last subpoena was issued on the 24th day of June 2019 for his appearance and testimony before the commission today.
“During a meeting this morning between Mr Touray, the chairman and the commission’s staff members, Mr Touray indicated his refusal to honour the subpoena. He is presently within the premises of of the TRRC but as just been seen, he has clearly refused to appear and testify before the commission pursuant to the subpoena.
“Mr Yankuba Touray claims that he has immunity from prosecution for all human rights violations that occurred between 1994 and 1997. It must be noted however that even if this immunity claim were to be accepted which is not the case, he cannot lawfully refuse to appear before the commission and answer questions that do not directly violate the immunity he claims.
“Mr Yankuba Touray has also been informed on several occasions that failure to respect a subpoena issued by the TRRC constitutes a contempt of court and is therefore liable to be referred to the high court for prosecution. In the light of this, the commission has to act firmly and within the parameters of the law to ensure that actions of this nature are dealt with with the full force of the law. I therefore have no choice but to order the immediate arrest of Mr Yankuba Touray pursuant to Section 15, 1(A) and 15, 2(B) of the TRRC Act of 2017.”
TRRC counsel Essa Faal intervened once the chairman of the commission finished reading a prepared statement, asking the investigation to give Yankuba Touray another chance to testify. Touray later emerged but only after another back and forth with Faal in the witness room.
At the hearing room, Touray was asked to swear by the Quran which he did. Five minutes into his testify, Touray again showed his stubborn side.
“I am not going to testify regarding that please. I invoke my constitutional immunity on all those issues,” Mr Touray told Essa Faal after the lawyer asked him about the problems that the Gambian army faced in the 1990s. Touray then stormed out after another back and forth with Essa Faal, leaving the counsel scrambling for options.