Three Russians and a Ukrainian accused of dealing in illegal mining (galamsey) at Tontokrom in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region have been dragged before the Accra Circuit Court.
The three Russians — Farid Isaev, Vadim Potokin and Serhii Chepurnly; and the Ukrainian, Genadly Rubec, have been charged with conspiracy to commit crime and undertaking small-scale mining without licence, contrary to Section 99 (2) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).
At the court hearing yesterday, the pleas of the alleged ‘galamseyers’ were not taken because they made a sign which meant that they did not understand English and could only speak Russian.
In view of that, the court, presided over by Ms Ruby Aryeetey, instructed the court registrar to arrange for a Russian interpreter to facilitate the continuation of the trial.
The presiding judge also remanded the four accused persons in police custody and adjourned the case to May 31, 2017.
The Prosecutor, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mr Cletus Abadanlowra, informed the court that Isaev, Potokin and Chepurnly were engineers of a mining company – Geo Professional Service, while Rubec was the site manager of the same company.
The company, he said, operated a small-scale mining concession at Tontokrom despite the fact that such mining operations were reserved for Ghanaians under the Minerals and Mining Act.
Also, any form of small-scale mining, he explained, had been banned by the government until further notice, due to the destructive nature of illegal mining.
On May 22, 2017, Mr Abadanlowra said, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Peter Amewu, together with other officials, went on a fact-finding mission on illegal mining at Tontokrom.
“The team found Isaev, Potokin, Chepurnly and Rubec busily engaged in galamsey without lawful authority. They were using heavy equipment which had degraded a vast land thereby destroying farms and the source of drinking water for the community,’’ he said.
The prosecutor added that investigations into the case were still ongoing to arrest and bring the other accomplices who were now at large to book.
The two military officers who were caught providing security for the foreigners at the galamsey site at Tontokrom in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region.