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Dr. Isatou Touray opens defence in Gamcotrap trial

Jul 19, 2011, 12:54 PM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

Dr. Isatou Touray, executive director of Gamcotrap, last Friday opened her defence in the alleged theft case involving her and Mrs Amie Bojang-Sissoho, programme coordinator of the same organisation at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before acting-Principal Magistrate Taiwo Alagba.

The two prominent women’s rights activists are alleged to have, in 2009 in Banjul and diverse places in The Gambia, jointly stole 30,000 Euro being money provided by the YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD of Spain to Gamcotrap.

Testifying as defence witness one (DW1), Dr.Touray told the court that she has a doctorate degree in development and gender studies, adding that Gamcotrap is a women’s rights organisation and their aim is to eliminate harmful practices, such as early marriage and FGM.

Asked by defence counsel Amie A.A. Bensouda whether Gamcotrap did have NGO status, Dr Touray said Gamcotrap did have NGO status.

 At that point, the defence counsel applied to tender the status document as evidence, but the prosecuting officer raised an objection.

However, the prosecution’s objection was later overruled by the trial magistrate, and admitted the status document as an exhibit.

She asserted that her organisation was registered at the Attorney General’s Chambers, NGO Affairs and TANGO.

She said she volunteered for Gamcotrap for 17 years as a gender expert, when she retired from government service, and became the executive director of Gamcotrap.

Dr. Touray added that the Women’s Bureau is the national machinery for the welfare of women in the country, and her organisation is a member of a specialised committee under the Women’s Bureau to look after all the harmful traditional practices in the country.

“Amie Bojang-Sisoho is the programme coordinator, and she is responsible for education and served as the publicity secretary. We are both charged with stealing 30,000 Euro from YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD,’’she said.

“My organisation has never stolen any amount like 30,000 Euro from YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD in Spain,” Dr. Touray told the court in her defence.

She added that her organisation happened to have contact with YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD, in Spain in 2007 through two sisters, Patricia and Chris, who frequently visit The Gambia.

She added that the two sisters once visited their office and told them they had been following their programmes on the internet and newspapers and that they came to thank them for their good work.

Still testifying, she told the court that the two sisters further told them that they wanted to look for funds for them in Spain, and they wanted them to prepare a proposal and send it to them, which they did.

“The treasury of YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD later informed us that the community to eradicate harmful practises in the country had approved the proposal,” she added.
The case at that juncture was adjourned till 1st and 3rd August 2011.