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Revelations in Gamcotrap case, as Yolocamba Solidaridad Director testifies

Jan 31, 2011, 11:59 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

There were startling revelations in the criminal trial involving Isatou Touray, executive director of Gamcotrap, and Amie Sosoho-Bojang, programme coordinator of the same organisation, on Saturday.

The two prominent women right activists are being tried before acting Principal Magistrate Alagba of the Banjul Magistrates' Court for allegedly stealing €30,000, being money provided by the YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD of Spain to Gamcotrap.

During Saturday's proceedings, the seventh prosecution witness, Ms Begonballes Teros Sanchez, told the court that she resides in Madrid, Spain, and she is the director of Yolocamba Solidaridad based in Spain.

"Yolocamba Solidaridad is a Non-Governmental Organisation which works internationally for 12 years now. We work on development projects and that we have five agendas, namely equality, human rights, development of citizens, development of the society, economic development and system of works," she explained.

She revealed that Yolocamba Solidaridad, being an NGO, looks for funding from public institutions by presenting their project proposals to them to solicit funds to finance their international projects.

She further pointed out that these funds are public funds that they give out with restrictions, conditions and mutual agreements, which must be complied with before acquiring the funds.

Ms Begonballes Teros Sanchez revealed that she recognised the 1st accused person, Dr Isatou Touray, as the executive director of Gamcotrap and Amie Bojang-Sissoh, as the programme coordinator of the same organisation.

She said the function of Gamcotrap is to fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), adding that her organisation had written agreement with the executive director of Gamcotrap in 2009, in Spain and The Gambia.

"The community where I stay in Madrid had approved a project to carry out campaign against FGM and also to sensitise the general public about the impact of FGM, as well as family, health experts etc.," she revealed.

She disclosed that each of the activities has its own special budget and that Gamcotrap's obligation was to execute the project in the monetary aspect and also to campaign.

"Gamcotrap did not carry out any micro-credit finance and we did not see any woman who is engaged in such businesses and this was the main cause of the problem we had. That was not the agreement we signed with them," she further explained.

"We prepared a budget of €31,000 for that project but the accused persons said they had spent 25,000 euros for the operations and 5,000 euros for micro-credit finance," the witness revealed.

The witness further said there were no single documents to show how that huge amount of money was spent.

"The total monies sent to the accused persons was €129,824.90 in three instalments and we have furnished them all with the necessary information as to how the money should be spent, but this was not what happened in this case," the witness adduced.

"As director, we have never received even a single document indicating how the money was spent and we have not seen any woman who is engaged in such a business. Then the money might have been spent for a different purpose," she added.

"The purpose of the €31,000 is to fight against FGM with 36 women involved in FGM and how to sustain and abandon the practice," the witness adduced.

She disclosed that as the director of Yolocamba Solidridad, she received a letter from the community of Madrid indicating that if Gamcotrap failed to submit the report of how the €31,000 was spent, they should refund all the monies sent to them amounting to €129,824.90.

"I contacted the accused persons to explain how the money has been spent in writing, but they failed to comply. I then contacted the Gambian authorities to investigate the accused persons about how the €31,000 was spent."

 The case was then adjourned till today for cross-examination by defence counsel Amie Bensouda.