The four Russians and Ukrainians standing trial for engaging in illegal mining (galamsey) at Tontokrom in the Ashanti Region have pleaded not guilty to charges of undertaking small scale mining in Ghana without license.
The four accused persons-Farid Isaev, Vadim Potokin, Serhii Chepurnly and Genadly Rubec, gave their plea in Russian which was translated by an interpreter when they appeared in court on Wednesday morning, reports Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson.
They 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 their appearance at the Accra Circuit Court Wednesday morning, their lawyer, Mr Emmanuel K Darko prayed the court to grant them bail because three of them were sick.
The court, presided over by Mr Aboagye Tandoh, however, remanded them in police custody and adjourned the case to June 14, 2017 for ruling on the bail application.
According to the prosecutor, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mr Cletus Abadanlowra; Isaev, Potokin and Chepurnly were engineers of a mining company – Geo Professional Services, 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 John 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.