The ‘Chinese FPSO’. INSET: Some of the Chinese covering their faces
A Sekondi High Court has ordered the seizure of the ‘water home’ and other equipment on the River Ankobra purportedly built by some Chinese illegal miners for their operations in the river.
The well-built ‘water-homes’ also referred to as ‘Chinese FPSO,’ is covered with tents and mosquito nettings.
The Chinese have allegedly built a toilet in the structure on the river, surrounded by their mining equipment.
The court also remanded five Chinese and five Ghanaians suspected to be illegal miners (galamseyers) into police custody to reappear before it on Monday, April 24, 2017.
This is to give the court ample time to look for a certified Chinese interpreter to help interpret the proceedings to the Chinese nationals.
Explaining why the court ordered for the seizure of the equipment, one of the suspects’ lawyers, Samuel Ericson Abakah, said that the order was in line with the law governing small scale mining.
He said according to the law, items which are used in small-scale mining operations ought to be taken over by the prosecution once the case is under investigation.
“Once it is settled that there was really an illegal mining, then the equipment will be confiscated. But when at the end of the trial it is noticed that the activities are legal, the equipment will be given back to the users,” he added.
He continued, “We came here to ask for bail for our clients but the court declined and adjourned the case to April 24. We hope hearing will commence and we will reapply for the bail.”
The Chinese and their Ghanaian counterparts were reportedly seen mining in River Ankobra in two communities – Bamiankor and Duwale – in the Western Region.
The Chinese suspects are Dong Cheng, 30; Hung Jian, 51; Ning Guorui, 42; Yin Biquiang, 46 and Li Zilong, 44.
The Ghanaians are Eric Owusu, 28; Kwabena Adjei, 50; Nana Adu, 42; Kwasi Owusu, 28 and Kofi Darko, 21.
The suspects were first put before the Sekondi High Court presided over by Justice Edward Amoako Asante about two weeks ago.
Their pleas were not taken and the court remanded them into police custody to reappear before it yesterday.
That was after a state prosecutor, George Sackey, had prayed the court to give the prosecution some time to further investigate the case.
“We want to find out whether they (suspects) are conducting their mining activities with licence from the relevant authorities and so the police should be given adequate time to investigate,” he told journalists.
“If the suspects are granted bail, they are likely to interfere with witnesses desiring to testify in the case,” he stated.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Sekondi