The sister of the late Ousman Koro Ceesay says the path to forgiveness does not lead to those who obliterate the dark truth of the crime they have committed. Mr. Ceesay, the former Finance Minister of the Gambia, was murdered and had his remains burnt in the outskirts of Jambur in Kombo South in July 2005.
“We have heard a lot about forgiveness during these hearings. Forgiveness is not for the vilain, perpetrator,” Dr. Naffie Ceesay on Thursday told a news conference at Faji-Kunda Health Center. She said forgiveness “is the victim’s way of taking back their power and strength.”
Dr. Naffie Ceesay’s reaction comes on the heels of Edward Singhateh’s testimony before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. The former Junta Vice Chairman categorically denied participating in the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay. Mr. Singhatey deflected the evidence gathered against him and linked Ousman Koro Ceesay to Southern Senegal’s separatist rebel fighters. Confronted with a ‘mountain of evidence’, Singhatey said Mr. Ceesay was a go-between Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Casamance rebels. In that, Singhatey added, Mr. Ceesay was billed to make Libyan cash accessible to the rebels.
Dr. Ceesay debunked the subterfuge Singhatey used to tarnish her brother’s image. “Koro’s legacy is about service, uplifting and making difference. It should not to be confused with cheap attempts to smear his reputation,” she added.
Dr. Ceesay said Singhatey’s move was part of a wider strategy geared towards “planting the seeds of doubts” in the mind of Gambians.
The visiting US-based medical doctor, who has been offering free medical services to Gambians, explained that one of the reasons that led to the setting up of Ousman Koro Ceesay Foundation is to keep his memory alive by providing free school supplies, medical services, screening and community education to countless citizens. The Foundation has been having positive impact on the lives of people for four years.
Asked whether the transitional justice process can continue to rely on perpetrators to uncover the truth, Dr. Naffie Ceesay said she has confidence in the TRRC.
“Koro’s life was not ours to forgive, his killers would need to ask the Almighty for that. We believe justice will be served,” she said.
Like many victim families, the Ceesay family too is struggling to find closure to the murder of their loved one. As Ousman Koro Ceesay’s death continues to haunt the country’s political history, hopes remain high that the TRRC will ultimately make massive breakthrough in the case.