The state prosecutors in the murder trial of former state minister Yunkuba Touray have requested adequate time to amend his indictments to add at least 10 additional murder charges.
Touray currently faces single count of murder for his alleged involvement in the killing of former finance minister Ousman Koro Ceesay in 1995.
He was charged last week after refusing to testify before the Truth Commission on claims that he has constitutional immunity. The attorney general and justice minister Abubacarr Tambadou who leads a team of state prosecutors in the case sought for an adjournment until early October so that both parties can prepare enough as they file additional charges.
“The prosecution is in the process of substantially amending the indictment to add at least 10 additional counts of murder and other serious offences,” said Tambadou.
But the defense lawyer Abdoulie Sisoho said the time requested by the prosecutor is too far and they are prepared to go to trial beginning next week.
Sisoho said the proposed amendments to the indictment against Touray is not before the court, hence the trial can continue. The court rules on the prosecution’s early October adjournment request on July 15. Meanwhile, the ex-military Touray has again raised his constitutional immunity claim before the court when he was asked to take a plea. “I plea my constitutional immunity,” said Touray after his charges were read to him by Justice Ebrima Jaiteh.
However, Jaiteh said the High Court has the jurisdiction to hear any murder case and thus entered a “not guilty” plea for Touray and the case proceeded. But Tambadou thought Touray’s position needs clarity. He argued that Touray was ambiguous in that he was not relying on a specific provision of the constitution.
“… There is not provision of the constitution that the accused has sought to invoke. We do not know the type of immunity he is claiming and the category of offences he is claiming immunity for and the accused cannot arrogate to himself the power to determine his immunity,” argued Tambadou.
Tambadou said the High Court needs to make a determination on the issue of jurisdiction and if need be referred the case to the Supreme Court. Justice Jaiteh has already made clear the position of the court that the High Court could hear Touray’s case.
And the defense lawyers of Touray have said they are ready to begin the trial and so long as the issue of jurisdiction is not before the court, it is pointless to take the case to Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the High Court is expected to rule on the bail application for Touray and determine a proper adjournment date for the commencement of the murder trial on July 15.
Touray also faces contempt of court charges for refusing to testify before the Truth Commission and that case comes on July 23.