Monday, September 5, 2011

Dr Touray: I Declined To Be Corrupted by the Spanish Woman

A theft suspect Dr Isatou Touray, the executive director of Gamcotrap, a prominent women’s rights advocacy organisation in The Gambia on Thursday ended her testimony amid startling revelations.
Dr Touray and Amie Bojang-Sissoho, programme officer at Gamcotrap are facing trial at the magistrates’ court in Banjul, the capital, on allegations of stealing 30, 000.00 euros from a Spanish NGO, Yolacamba.
Both pleaded not guilty.
In her testimony, which started some weeks ago, Dr Touray informed the court how her organisation entered into contract with the Spanish NGO.
She said, the funds they are alleged to have stolen were used as earmarked – to scale up campaign to eliminate the deep-seated cultural practice of female genital mutilation in The  Gambia.
When Begona Ballesteros Sanchez, the director of the Spanish NGO came into  The Gambia to visit project sites, Gamcotrap wrote a report on the monitoring and agreed on the dates of the dropping of the knives ceremonies and a public declaration by 36 circumcisers.

A workshop, too was held at Paradise Suites Hotel and was attended by the representatives of the Spanish Consulate and other countries which were Senegal, Mali, Guinea Bissau and The Gambia, she testified.
To her shock, she said, after the conduct of the agreed programmes under the project, she received an email message from Begona, who informed her that the said 30, 000.00 euros was not spent on micro finance and they should produce receipt regarding the said 30.000 euros.
After sharing the information with her staff, she replied the Spanish lady.
According to Dr Touray, when Madam Begona returned into  The Gambia, the Spanish lady invited her to have a breakfast together at Kunta Kinteh Hotel.
She said, when she asked, if she could go with one of her senior staff, Amie Bojang Sissoho, the Spanish woman declined to that proposal.
“Upon arrival, the director of Yolocamba Solidad introduced a D10. Million project to me,” she explained. “But she gave me a pre- condition that before she released the said money for Gamcotrap to have the 2010 funds for the organisation, I must produce the receipt for the 30.000 euros for her.
“I told her that the money that has been approved for 2010, was based on the proposal we submitted to scale up the advocacy for the elimination of all forms of FGM and the protection of human rights and that there is no way that she (Begona) can corrupt her.
“Madam Begona told me that if I refused to agree, she would show me that my country is corrupt by using the same money to put me behind bars.”
And two days later, she said, she saw the first panel of investigators from different state security units at her office and she was informed that they were wanted for questioning.
“When I asked for the purpose of the questioning, I was told that it is an order from the Executive; that Gamcotrap officials should report to the police headquarters for interrogation,” she said.
She said a letter was produced by one Ebrima O. Camara from the Office of the President.
 “I then put in the entire relevant documents relating to the project and it was this document that led the first panel of investigators regarding the project.
She and Amie Bojang were then taken to Kanifing where they were informed that they are required to clarify some matters.
Hearing resumes September 21, 2011.

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