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30 August 2017

26 West African nationals sentenced to GH¢15.6m fine

A Koforidua circuit court has sentenced 26 foreigners arrested for engaging in illegal mining in the Atewa forest of the Eastern region.

The foreigners, mainly Nigeriens and Malians were found guilty of conspiracy to do illegal mining and mining without a licence contrary to Section 23(1) of Act 29.

They were ordered to pay a fine each of GH¢600,000 which means the 26 of them are expected to pay a total of GH¢15.6million to the state or in default  they will spend five years in jail.

Hausa and French interpreters provided for some of the accused told the court the accused were not mining but were on a hunting expedition.

Some of them claimed they were in the forest praying although the Forestry Department found sophisticated mining equipment at the site of their arrest.

Counsel for accused persons Dolla Mensah pleaded the sentence be reduced because they have already spent 8 months in custody after they were arrested January 26, 2017.

war on illegal mining

Deputy state prosecutor Cyril Boateng however asked the court to impose the maximum sentence for the offence to set an example that illegal mining blamed for massive environmental degradation will no longer be tolerated.

He said the whole country is watching out for the verdict of the court and a stiff punishment could boost the government’s declared war on ‘galamsey’.

There are about 400 soldiers and police officers combing mining zones to flush out illegal miners after several warnings to them to stop the practice went unheeded.

Her Worship Mercy Addai Kotei rejected the pleas of the accused and convicted them.

Three other Ghanaians also standing trial for the same offence were also sentenced to pay a fine each of GH¢2,500  In default, they are to spend three years in jail.

Joy News Edwin Kofi Siaw who reported from the court explained sentences are different according to an accused person’s citizenship status.

All the 29 miners were arrested by the Forestry Department in an operation led by Palmer Akins Amponsah following a tip-off.

 

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