The Koforidua Circuit Court ‘B’ presided over by Her Honour Mercy Adei Kotei will today deliver judgement on the 29 foreign illegal miners arrested in the Atiwa Forest Reserve early this year.
There is currently heavy security of armed Police and Military personnel at the court.
Throughout the trial, the accused persons have pleaded not guilty to charges of illegally mining, mining without license and conspiracy to commit.
The accused contend that, they were in the forest for hunting expedition .
The facts of the case as presented to the court commencing trial of the accused persons by the Deputy Eastern Regional State Attorney, Cyril Boateng Keteku the prosecuting officer is that the complainant in the case is a team of forestry taskforce made up of police, Military and personnel of the Forestry Services Division, while the accused persons are nationals mainly from Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.
On January 26, 2017, the complainants, on their routine patrols in the forest, chanced upon the accused persons at about 5:00a.m. using sophisticated mining equipment to excavate the soil to prospect for gold and other minerals in the forest reserve without license.
The prosecutor further explained that the team succeeded in arresting 29 of them, namely Mohammed Omar, Mohammed Haruna, Amadu Basar, Dauda Zinjima, Amar Mohamed, Kassin Bramah, Mahamudu Arubakari and Sitah Zibo.
The others are Hamidu Amadu, Musah Iddrisu, Munkaila Bomboro, Omaru Sulemana, Addul M. Hudu, Zibo Alibu, Haruna Mumuni, Abdulai K. Kibo, Bukari Musah, Musah Ahmed and Sulley Aadum.
The rest are Munkaila Salifu, Yakuba Adamu, Yao Denay, Fuseini Amadu, Gubar Jatah, Barim Sribil, Hamza Gudiah Nameh Keita and Jibril Amidu.
Sophisticated mining equipments were retrieved, adding that a search in the forest revealed that the activities of the illegal miners had destroyed a large portion of the forest reserve and also created death trap holes in the forest.
He said the suspects were escorted to the regional police headquarters in Koforidua, where they were interrogated and their caution statements taken.
The prosecutor added that the accused persons could not produce any licence authorising their mining activities, hence they were charged with three counts each of conspiracy to mine without licence, mining without licence and trespassing of forest reserves.