The Sekondi High Court One, on Monday remanded into prison custody for the third time, five Chinese and their five Ghanaian counterparts who were arrested by the Western Regional Police Command for allegedly mining in the River Ankobra.
The 10 were charged with Conspiracy to Commit Offence and Undertaking Small Scale Mining without License contrary to Section 99(2) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, conspiracy to commit offence to wit, causing intentional and unlawful harm and damage to property; Causing Unlawful Damage Intentionally and Unlawfully to Property in a manner likely to cause danger to life.
They were further charged with pollution of water contrary to Section 23(1) of the Criminal Offences Act; Pollution of water contrary to Section 24 of the Water Resources Commission Act, 1996. engaging in mining activity using methods not known or approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and disregarding a directive and obligation imposed under the immigration Act as well as making false representation contrary to section 23(1) of the Criminal Offences Act,1960.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges and would reappear in court on Wednesday May 3, 2017.
A certified Chinese interpreter, Yang Weiqiang, led by a Chief Interpreter, Nat Karikari of the Judicial Service Headquarters in Accra was available to interpret proceedings to the Chinese nationals.
Prosecuting, George Sackey, a Senior State Attorney mentioned Dong Cheng, unemployed; Huang Jiang, Engineer; Nin Guorui, welder; Yin Bi Qiang, spare parts dealer and Li Zilong, Cook as the Chinese suspects
He also gave the names of the Ghanaian suspects as Eric Owusu, Carpenter; Kwabena Adjei, small scale miner; Nana Adu Ackah Mensah, farmer; Kwesi Owusu, unemployed and Kofi Darko, driver.
He told the Court presided over by Justice Edward Amoako Asante that, at the beginning of 2017, the Police Regional CID in Sekondi had a tip off that some Asians and Ghanaians had invaded the banks of River Ankobra and were engaged in illegal mining on the bed of the river.
He said armed with this information, the Regional Police Command organized an operation on March 24, 2017, to clamp down on the illegal miners.
He said the team visited the area and spotted the accused persons engaged in alluvial dredging on board a huge boat mounted on the River Ankobra which served as their permanent place of abode.
The Prosecution said the police managed to enter the boat and arrested the accused persons and when a search was conducted on the boat, a quantity of black sand concentrate in a metal container suspected to contain gold was found together with some machine parts.
He said in the course of investigations, it was realised that the accused persons did not have authorization from the Minerals Commission to conduct that mining procedure and that they were also not able to produce any authorization from the EPA or the Water Resources Commission.
The Senior State Attorney said the five Chinese nationals have also not been able to produce evidence to authorize their operation of a mining concession or to engage in any type of mining activity in Ghana hence their arrest and charge with the offences.
Counsel for the accused, Mr Samuel Ericson Abekah prayed the court to grant them bail since the suspects had languished in cells for four weeks, and that their offences were also bailable, but his application was refused.